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Spring/Summer 1990 

Volume 10, No. 3 Spring/Summer 1990 

, Creatine 
V}oman Governors State University, University Park, IL 60466 


Published under the auspices of the provosts office, 
© 1990 governors state university and helen hughes 

ISSN 0736 - 4733 


I lelen E. Hughes, Editor 
Suzanne Oliver, Art Director 
Barbara Conant, Library Resources 
Cynthia Ogorek, Managing Editor 
Priscilla Rockwell, Editorial Consultant 
Lynne I Iostetter, Word Processing 
Linda Kuester, Word Processing 
Emily Wasiolek, Editorial consultant 
Lynn Ann Lindvig, Editorial Consultant 


Glenda Baily-Mershon, Illinois NOW/National Organization for Women, Oak Park, IL 

Donna Bandstra, Healthgroup International, Sherman Oaks, CA 

Margaret Brady, Social Sciences, Homewood, IL 

Rev. Ellen Dohner Livingston, Religion, Unitarian Society of Ponoma Valley, CA 

Rita Durrant, League of American Per/women, Doylestown, PA 

Deborah Garrelson, Counseling, Muncie, IN 

Temmie Gilbert, Theatre/Media, Governors State University 

Linda Grace-Kobas, Journalism, University of Buffalo, N.Y. 

Harriet Gross, Sociology/Women's Studies, Governors State University 

Helene N. Guttman, Biological Sciences, Bethesda, M.D. 

Bethe Hagens, Anthropology, Governors State University 

Barbara Jenkins, Psychology, Governors State University 

Betye Saar, Fine Arts, Hollywood, CA 

Terri Schwartz, Psychology, Governors State University 

Sara Shumer, Political Theory, Haverford College, PA 

Lynn Thomas Strauss, Women's Studies/Parenting, Oak Park, IL 



3 Introduction: James Lovelock's GAIA: Reweaving the Web of Life by Helen Hughes 


8 Earth Day, Chicago, April 22, 1990 , Women, Gaia and Ecology by Riane Eisler 

11 Conference: International Women's Writing Guild- Washington, D.C. 
11 Ringing the Gong by Cynthia Ogorek 

14 In My Own Words by Hannelore Hahn 

17 Conference: Soviet - American Citizen Summit on the Environment 
17 In Moscow: Women - Peace - Ecology by Rosemary Matson 

19 Listen the Future Anew! by JoAnn Cannon 

21 VideoConference: Corporate America and the Environment 

21 Live from Governors State University - Corporate America and the Environment by Sally Pettrilli 

23 Conference: Womanquest 
23 Lady of Turning by Kendyl Gibbons 

23 Declaration of the Four Sacred Things by Starhawk 

24 Secrets, Dialogues, Revelations: The Art of Betye and Alison Saar, reviewed by Helen Hughes 


26 The Wonder of Whales by Marilyn Fischbach 

29 Factory Farming: Not Mr. MacDonald's Farm by Marcy Gross 


32 GaiaSpeak by Bethe Hagens 

35 Poetry by Margaret S. B. White 

38 A Report from the Conservation Chair by Catherine Blair 

39 Green Holds No Response by Sarah Probst 

40 Two Book Reviews of The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology and the Scientific Revolution by Carolyn Merchant 
40 Reviewed by Lynn Lindvig 

43 Reviewed by Margaret S. Matchett 

44 Letters To the Editor 
46 Editor's Column 

The Creative Woman is published three times a year by Governors 
State University. We focus on a special topic in each issue, presented 
from a feminist perspective. We celebrate the creative achievements of 
women in many fields and appeal to inquiring minds. We publish 
fiction, poetry, book reviews, articles, photography and original graphics. 

Cover Artwork 

"Embrace" by Deborah Koff-Chapin 

© 1990 See inside back cover for 




Part 1: Lovelock's Hypothesis 

Do you remember where you were and what you 
were doing on the day our astronauts went 
bouncing about on the moon, and we saw for the 
first time that incredibly beautiful and moving 
photograph of our Home — our precious, fragile, 
shimmering blue-green-white planet Earth — 
hanging like a jewel in the total blackness of 
space? I was in my study in Hyde Park and I 
thought we human beings had turned a corner, 
that a rise in consciousness equal to that of the 
Copernican revolution was inevitable. So I 
started dating everything from ONE - Day One 
of the New Age, day two.. .that lasted about a 
month. I couldn't find anyone else who shared 
my vision of the turning point in human history 
as marked from that image of Earth as seen from 
space, so I gave it up and rejoined the majority. 
But, what if I was right? that it was a watershed 
moment in human consciousness? As the Iro- 
quois ask about any important act or decision: 
"What does this mean to the 7th generation?" 
What will our great-great-great grandchildren 
say about us and our wisdom in the late years of 
the twentieth century? 

Twenty years have passed since that luminous 
moment, leading to a joining of the feminist and 

ecology movements: ecofeminism, the richest of 
the rivers of feminist thought, combining the 
spiritual, visionary, holistic worldview and the 
latest knowledge base and insights of science. 
This issue explores the hypothesis of James 
Lovelock, (a British scientist who first published 
his Gaia theory in 1969, the book in 1977, paper- 
back edition 1982, and his latest, The Ages of Gaia, 
in 1988), and some of the implications of his 

Jim Lovelock is a specialist in gas chromotogra- 
phy, the inventor of the electron capture detector 
and an expert in environmental analysis, a scien- 
tist in the tradition of Rachel Carson, gifted with 
the ability to see connections that others had 
missed. In the early 1960s he was invited by 
NASA to help devise ways and means to detect 
life on Mars and other planets as NASA was 
making its first plans for space probes. Their 
design involved looking for life in ways that 
would provide evidence that life existed on Mars, 
similar to life as we know it on Earth: taking soil 
samples, searching for chemicals that would 
suggest life processes at work, and so forth. But 
Lovelock asked, "Why should we assume that 
Martian life will reveal itself by tests based on 
Earth conditions?" and then he asked, "What is 
life? How can it be recognized?" 

However, because science has been divided and 
subdivided into small and smaller disciplines, no 
one was looking at this question and Lovelock 
found a dearth of material. People were studying 
small pieces of life, but few were trying to say 
what life was. So he set to work. And in the 
process of designing an inquiry into life on Mars, 
he discovered new relationships on earth that led 
him to his GAIA hypothesis. Here is his working 

"Life is an open or continuous system, found 
wherever there is an abundant flow of energy, 
with a tendency to shape or form itself as it 
consumes nutrients and excretes waste, a self- 
regulating system operating in a feedback loop." 

He concludes that the biota — the sum of all 
living things, including plants, animals, and 
micro-organisms — not only profoundly affect 
the earth's environment, but act to maintain and 
enhance life on the planet. His friend William 
Golding suggested that he name this idea GAIA, 
after the Greek Earth Goddess, Mother of the 

Lovelock found that the chemistry of the atmos- 
phere violates the rules of steady state chemistry, 

that a disequilibrium exists that suggested that 
the atmosphere is not merely a biological product, 
as oxygen often is, but more probably a biologi- 
cal construction — "like a cat's fur, or a bird's 
feathers, an extension of a living system, de- 
signed to maintain a chosen environment." So 
GAIA is a complex entity involving the earth's 
biosphere, atmosphere, oceans and soil, operating 
in a cybernetic or feedback system to ensure an 
optimal environment for life. 

Evidence for the theory is based on three main 
findings of remarkable stability: 

• the percentage of oxygen in the atmosphere 

• the percentage of salt in the oceans 

• the mean temperature of the planet 

1. The atmosphere is the key: according to the 
laws of chemistry and physics, the gases in a 
planet's atmosphere should react to form stable 
compounds and settle into an equilibrium, or 
steady state. The Martian atmosphere is just such 
an equilibrium. Earth's atmosphere is different 
because of the continuous injection of gases and 
energy into the atmosphere by the planet's plants 
and animals. Most important, the amount of 
oxygen in the earth's atmosphere remains virtu- 
ally constant, at about 21%. If the oxygen level 
dropped more than a few percentage points, 
many organisms would die. If it should climb as 
high as 25%, fires would burn out of control. 
What keeps the atmosphere's oxygen content 
constant, within this narrow margin that makes 
life possible? How has Earth maintained this 
vital balance, supporting life? 

2. The ocean's salt content, 3.5% by weight, is 
also regulated. Five hundred megatons of salt 
run off into the oceans every year. Why doesn't 
ocean water get saltier? Scientists used to think it 
did. Now it is known that salinity remains con- 
stant, no matter how many megatons of salt are 
added annually. Were the salinity to climb from 
3.5% to 4%, most ocean-dwelling organisms 
would die. At 6%, virtually all would die. 
Lovelock's answer is that since life began the 
salinity of the oceans has been under biological 
control. Whales, phytoplankton, micro-organisms 
and the great coral reefs all seem to play a part in 
this complex control system. Lovelock explains 
how the complex ocean system of biological 
control works. 

3. The earth's average surface temperature has 
remained relatively constant, between 50 and 68 
degrees Fahrenheit, even during the Ice Ages. 
This, despite the fact that over the course of 3.5 
billion years of life on earth, the sun's output of 
energy may have increased by as much as 30%! 

Why didn't earth's water freeze? asked Lovelock. 
Why didn't it boil away? It seemed inconceiv- 
able that chance alone could have so finely 
regulated these conditions to keep the planet in 
an optimal, hospitable state for life. Just as our 
bodies are homeostatic, self-regulating systems, 
so that we can adapt and survive our winters or 
endure our summers, earth is homeostatic, he 
concluded. The biosphere, including the atmos- 
phere and the oceans and land, operates as a 
living organism, automatically coordinating its 
vital systems to compensate for environmental 
changes or threats. 

For those of you who want a closer and deeper 
look at the scientific work undergirding all of 
this, see the references following this article. My 
guess is that there are many readers who feel 
intuitively the truth of Lovelock's thesis. Indeed, 
some of you may be saying (and with good 
cause) what's so new about this? The Native 
Americans have always known it. Marcus Aure- 
lius, the Roman stoic, wrote "Always think of the 
universe as one living organism, with a single 
substance and a single soul," and addressed the 
universe thus, "O world, I am in tune with every 
note of thy great harmony. For me, nothing is 
early, nothing late, if it be timely for thee." 
Thoreau felt Earth to be living, and denied a clear 
distinction between organic and inorganic parts 
of earth. Other thinkers who have postulated 
Earth as a living organism include Lewis Thomas 
and Gregory Bateson. The farmer's common 
sense wisdom has always been, "You take care of 
the land and the land will take care of you." 

Nevertheless, Lovelock's ideas were met first by 
silence and neglect, then derision, from many. 
Since the concept appealed to many religious and 
ecologically minded folks, this fact further alien- 
ated that part of the scientific community that 
likes to consider itself hard-nosed. Their reason- 
ing (if you can call it that) is that if the mystics 
climb on the bandwagon, there must be some- 
thing wrong with the wagon. And if an idea 
becomes trendy, many scientists have been 
trained to look at it with skepticism if not cyni- 
cism. But among his admirers are such emi- 
nences as Rene Dubos, the microbiologist, Philip 
Morrison, the physicist, and Lewis Thomas, 
author of Lives of a Cell. Lovelock's theory em- 
phasizes such potential selective forces as coop- 
eration and symbiosis that are frequently over- 
looked by more traditional evolutionary thinkers. 
Natural selection does not preclude cooperation 
as an evolutionary force along with predation, 
competition, etc. Any factor that tends to maxi- 
mize birthrates and acts unequally on members 
of a population can have evolutionary 

impact.. .i.e., "cooperative" members of a popula- 
tion could be selected for. The fact that his theo- 
ries appeal to religious folks (or ecofeminists) 
surprised Lovelock but was no problem; he sees 
it as a great organizing principle to bring to- 
gether people who don't normally talk to each 
other: biologists, geochemists, atmospheric scien- 
tists, to ask profound questions about how we 
got here and how the system works. 

A paradigm shift is in process. Fifty years have 
passed since Heisenberg, Bohr and Einstein made 
Newtonian thinking obsolete, but popular con- 
sciousness is only now catching up. Only in 
recent years with such books as The Tao of Phys- 
ics, The Turning Point and Uncommon Wisdom by 
Fritjof Capra have the social-philosophical impli- 
cations of the new physics become clearer. In 
Capra's books he has argued that the universe 
can only be understood as a cosmic dance of 
unity, beyond the world of opposites, and that 
this historical moment can only be understood as 
a great shift away from Newtonian concepts and 
laws to a new understanding of dynamic interac- 
tion. The new paradigm is now emerging in 
various places simultaneously. 

What is our role as human beings if the GAIA 
hypothesis is correct? Lovelock writes: 

"As the transfer of power to our species pro- 
ceeds, our responsibility for maintaining homeo- 
stasis grows with it, whether we are conscious of 
the fact or not." 

"Unlike Stone Age Man, we now have the capac- 
ity to collect, store and process information, then 
use it to interact with the environment." 

The Chinese character for CRISIS combines the 
ideographs for danger and opportunity. We are 
indeed at such a crisis, such a turning point, 
confronting both danger and opportunity. Will 
enough of us understand soon enough to prevent 
the destruction of the tropical rain forests which 
send essential oxygen into the atmosphere? To 
prevent the drilling and destruction of the off- 

shore continental plates which provide the micro- 
organisms that may regulate the ocean's salinity? 
"To what extent is our collective intelligence also 
a part of Gaia? Do we, as a species, constitute a 
Gaian nervous system, a brain which can con- 
sciously anticipate environmental changes? Our 
increasingly subtle and complex communication 
network has vastly increased Gaia's range of 
perception. She is now, through us, awake and 
aware of herself.. .It may be that the destiny of 
human kind is to become tamed, so that the 
fierce, destructive, and greedy forces of tribalism 
and nationalism are fused into a compulsive urge 
to belong to the commonwealth of all creatures 
which constitute Gaia." 

Industrial civilization will die hard. But changes 
are coming. WE caused them. As planet manag- 
ers, the human race has far to go. We still don't 
know enough! It's too late to be smug, self- 
satisfied and ignorant; but it's not too late to 
start. It is now our moral responsibility to be 
intelligent. We can't predict how the biosphere 
will react. Only one thing is sure: Gaia will do 
something. Even earthquakes and volcanoes are 
related to biological forces. Species either adapt 
to environmental changes, or die. We must all 
become earth system scientists, understanding 
that studies of climate can only be meaningful if 
the entire biosphere — forests, oceans, bacteria, 
atmosphere, humans — are all studied together 
in interaction. We are all cells in her body. 

"The most beautiful object I have ever seen in a 
photograph, in all my life, is the planet Earth 
seen from the distance of the moon, hanging 
there in space, obviously alive. Although it 
seems at first glance to be made up of innumer- 
able separate species of living things, on closer 
examination every one of its working parts, 
including us, is interdependently connected to 
all the other working parts. It is, to put it one 
way, the only truly closed ecosystem any of us 
knows about. To put it another way, it is an 
organism. It came alive, I shall guess, 3.8 billion 
years ago today, and I wish it a happy birthday 
and a long life ahead, for our children and their 
grandchildren and theirs and theirs." (- Lewis 

Part II: Interviewing Scientists 

It's hard to induce most academic scientists to 
discuss Lovelock. They seem to be embarrassed 
by him and made uncomfortable by his popular- 
ity, which makes him suspect. In my search for 
opinions, criticism or analysis, I most frequently 
heard "don't know anything about him," or 

"never heard of him,". ..and I thought I heard the 
implication "...and don't want to." Their reluc- 
tance and distaste are perfectly expressed by 
Vicky Meller, Ph.D., biology, who was kind 
enough to respond with this comment: 

"I know nothing about the Gaia Hypothesis, 
but what I've heard bothers me. Why must we 
evoke what is patently a theologic argument to 
induce people to do what should be common 
sense, to take care of the planet? The ends 
appear the same - you convince people that 
their actions have far reaching consequences 
because of the interdependence of systems 
within the biosphere - as those touted by con- 
servationists, ecologists, population biologists 
and epidemiologists for dozens of years. I feel 
it is desperately important that the findings of 
independent researchers on the environment be 
listened to, and their warnings heeded. I feel it 
equally important that this crucial area of 
research not become dominated by a pseudo- 
science. Gaia is trendy and seems to be market- 
able to a certain section of the population. Too 
bad the facts were never good enough to 
capture the imagination of those people. 

I'd certainly rather have people running around 
talking about Gaia and recycling their trash 
than unaware of our environmental crisis. But 
do you have to distance an issue from reality 
before it receives public support in the U.S. 

For ten years our government has rewritten 
reality on political, social and environmental 
issues (to say nothing of the economy). Has 
that negated the value of researched findings? 
Is Gaia the most accurate representation of the 
biosphere that will stick in the American mind 
in 1990? 

The biosphere is a defined thing with certain 
properties. It is fragile, endangered, and should 
be respected. Gaia is a make-believe thing. If it 
changes the world for the better, I'm all for it." 

As I spent a day walking the corridors and 
knocking on doors, asking my colleagues to 
enlighten me: "Do you know any evidence for 
the theory of Lovelock?" a few generous souls 
were willing to chat awhile. 

Mohammed Kishta, Ph.D., Science Education, 
spoke in terms of an Islamic perspective on 
science. "The Greeks tried to imprison the world 
to isolate it from the Creator, so as to study it 
objectively. I believe their efforts failed, and 
nature cannot be independent from its Creator. In 
Islam there is no division between science and 
faith. Islam challenges us to find a single instance 

of disharmony or irregularity in nature. If Lov- 
elock considers nature as purposeful, orderly and 
good, and if man is or could be an agent of good 
will to all living things, then I agree with him." 

And one of my colleagues said, off the record, "If 
there is a system like this, it will have to get rid 
of us." 

Another, quoting Lord Eric Ashby and adapting 
John Donne, said "Any tree's death diminishes 
me." "We are a spoiled, wasteful nation.. .a 
throwaway society." 

Then I found Jon Mendelson, Ph.D., zoology, 
resident ecologist, in his office and found what 
I'd been looking for. We found a quiet lounge 
space and talked at length. 

"There's still a basic tension between economic 
development and ecological responsibility. The 
man-centered vision of the world is total eco- 
nomic development: streets, houses, streetlights, 
shopping malls. But we have to limit growth. The 
non-statement of our video conference was that 
growth and expansion are not good. The point 
wasn't made that limits to growth is the only 
way to go." 

This is a man who lives his understanding. A city 
boy, he grew up in Manhattan, was trained at 
Harvard, coming into ecology via sociology, 
anthropology and social psychology. After Har- 
vard he entered Columbia Law School, and one 
fine day as he was walking to a class (which he 
"creatively hated") he saw his first blue jay at age 
22. He dropped out of law school, got a Peterson 
field guide and a bike, and began to study birds 
in Central Park. He moved to Wisconsin, studied 
chemistry, biology and did his Ph.D. in ichthyol- 
ogy. The period of 1965-1972 was the time of 
student activism. Aldo Leopold was influential 
and those "radical hippie freaks living in the 

"Now I'm living in the country in a farm hand- 
built by a Bohemian immigrant in the early 
1900s. We have no plumbing or central heating. 
We hand pump water (it takes 40 pumps to bring 
up five gallons of water) and have an outhouse. 
Our life is one of minimal impact on the environ- 
ment and maximum human input. It's labor 
intensive, exactly what I want. Our big organic 

garden, 3000 square feet, is a 'dry garden,' using 
rain water, compost, and no pesticides and no 
herbicides." The conversation turned to the water 
table: is there a problem? 

"There is a very serious problem, a big draw- 
down of the aquifer. Well-drillers are required to 
state the character of the soil, the substrate. In the 
past, surficial layers were reported. Now, they 
drill 180 feet into bedrock to find water. Streams 
go dry, no longer fed by springs, which have 
dried up. Ninety percent of Deer Creek is treated 
effluent from the sewage plant. How many small 
sewage treatment plants are filtering into the 
water tables? It's a chronic, slow contamination 
of the aquifer, and it's nationwide." 

Dr. Mendelson admits that he has an opportunity 
that is not available to the vast majority of people 
who are trapped by urban sprawl, and adds, 
"People, even with the best of intentions, are 
often locked into behavior destructive of the 
environment by economic forces seemingly 
beyond anyone's control." About the rainforest, 
he says, "The moisture that sustains it is pumped 
back into the atmosphere by the trees themselves. 
Remove the forest and the cycle is broken. All 
that water will run off the land, clogging rivers 
and streams with the products of erosion. The 
soils here are basic in pH, so that water passing 
through them removes silica leaving high con- 
centrations of iron and aluminum. Only the 
organic matter produced by the forest keeps 
them loose and friable. Remove the trees and the 
soil compacts to a cement-like consistency, use- 
less for agriculture. One solution is being at- 
tempted in Costa Rica (by David Janzen), a large 
scale effort to balance legitimate economic needs 
of human community with the maintenance of 
natural ecosystems in all their incredible diver- 

It's refreshing to see this colleague; with his sun- 
bleached hair, and his year-round tanned face, 
his ready-to-go outdoor gear, he seems like 
someone about to take you on a white-water 

canoe trip in Maine. He grew up on stories like 
"Freddie the Pig," stories about animals that 
could talk, and their gruff, benevolent farmer. 
Now he has become that farmer. 

He teaches ornithology, aquatic ecology, plant 
ecology. ..and statistics. On his own time he 
gardens and plays the piano (studies with Art 
Hodes) has three daughters, and sells the pro- 
duce that he and his wife raise at the Co-Op. 
"Life must be universally present," he concludes. 
"How could you stop it? It grows like weeds 
wherever the conditions are right. Will humans 
disappear? It doesn't matter. We're not the whole 

The rest of this issue fills you in on the many 
conferences and events that surrounded Earth 
Day, including both the dimensions of public 
policy and personal experience; the linguistic 
roots of Gaia; poetry and two reviews of an 
important book, The Death of Nature by Carolyn 
Merchant. Many friends helped us to assemble 
these pieces; special thanks to Jane Heckman 
who recorded Riane Eisler and sent the tape to 
us, and to Marylu Raushenbush who attended 
the Soviet- American Citizen Summit II in 
Moscow in January and recruited the papers read 
there by Rosemary Matson and JoAnn 
Cannon.Look for our next issue in which we'll 
begin a new feature, "Life Stories." 


For further reading: 

Gribbin, John (ed.) The Breathing Planet. A New Scientist 
Guide. New York: Basil Blackwell, Ltd., 1986. 

Lovelock, J.E. Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth. New York: 
Oxford University Press, 1979. 

Lovelock, James. The Aqes of Gaia: A Biography of Our Living 
Earth. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1988. 

Myers, Norman (ed.) Gaia: An Atlas of Planet Management. 
New York: Anchor Press /Doubleday & Company, 1984. 



CHICAGO, APRIL 22, 1990 

Women, Gaia and Ecology 

Riane Eisler 

My subject is "Women, Gaia and Ecology: Our 
Partnership with Nature " and I'm going to be 
talking about connections. Connections have 
been the theme of my work. And those of you 
who know the The Chalice and the Blade know 
why I've been invited here. It deals with the 
ecological movement in a much larger context, in 
a context of a major social shift. This shift is from 
what I call the Dominator to a Partnership way 
of living. And I'm also going to put what's 
happening today in an even bigger context — 
the context of thousands of years of our cultural 
evolution, in terms of very important information 
we're now reclaiming from archaeology. What 
we today call an ecological consciousness, in 
other words, rather than a conquest and domina- 
tion way of dealing with nature, a way of seeing 
nature with respect and even reverence, is really 
not new. It's a very ancient tradition. The British 
archaeologist James Mellaart calls it veritable 
revolution in archaeology, and we are finding out 
about this ancient heritage. And I don't think it's 


coincidental that we're reclaiming this knowl- 
edge now, because we need to have it. Our 
Partnership with Nature is the theme of Gaia 
which is the name that the Greeks gave to the 
Goddess of Earth and the Mother of the Gods, 
who has come down to us as Mother Earth, 
Mother Nature. And it's not coincidental that 
today we're finding that the idea of Gaia was not 
invented by the Greeks. We're finding out the 
worship of Gaia is very ancient. 

Some of you may be familiar with the theory 
called the Gaia hypothesis; it's the scientific 
theory proposed by two biologists, Lynn Mar- 
gulis and James Lovelock. What they're propos- 
ing is that the earth is not an inanimate object to 
be conquered and exploited, to be used and 
abused, that it's a living system that gives life, 
that sustains life, that nurtures life. Now the 
fascinating thing is that this revolutionary scien- 
tific theory is actually an update of the belief 
system of an earlier society which saw the earth 
as a living goddess to be revered, to be respected 
in the same way as they saw the body of woman. 
Not as an object to be abused and used, but as 
sacred and life giving and life sustaining, to be 
revered and to be respected. So I said to you that 
I was going to talk about connections, and I'm 
going to tell you that what we begin to see as we 
look at this ecological movement in this larger 
context is a shift in how we relate to ourselves, to 
our bodies, to other people, to other nations and 
also to nature, of course. If we look at the whole 
system shift we see that there are connections 
and, as important as it is for us to recycle, as 
important as it is for us not to put any more 
aerosol out into the biosphere, that by itself will 
not do it. As a matter of fact, that is not sustain- 
able by itself, because what we're talking about is 
a whole social system and you can't graft a 
sound ecological balance to a fundamentally 
unbalanced system which has been based on the 
notion that men should be socialized for con- 
quest and domination, be it of women, other 
men, other nations or nature. 

Men are clearly capable of caring and of nurtur- 
ing, and we see it every day with the new fa- 
thers. It's not an issue of women against men or 
men against women, but if s an issue of social 
structure that affects everything in our lives, and 
it's a issue of no longer relegating the caring and 
the cleaning to one half of humanity. Clearly men 
can be just as nurturing as women and clearly 

men can also clean! One of the things I want to 
share with you is something that I have to say 
but only as a half-joke which is that women 
would not have created nuclear waste with no 
idea of where to put it! The problem is that we've 
got to start bringing up both our daughters and 
our sons to be ecologically responsible at home, 
because otherwise we perpetuate this nonsense of 
men feeling inclined to make a mess, be it at 
home or on the planet, because somebody's 
going to come along (somebody female!) and 
clean it up. That's a stereotype. Are you begin- 
ning to see some of the connections? 

There are very important partnership trends in 
our society today and a shift toward a view of 
the earth as something not to be exploited but to 
be treated with respect, in partnership if you will. 
That's a very important part of it. But that's not 
enough. Because it will not be rooted in the 
whole belief system or in the institutional system 
or in the ways that we live in our daily lives on 
this planet. So we really need to take a look now 
at some of the specific things, and one of them of 
course is the politics of housework and that's not 
just a peripheral woman's issue — that is a hu- 
man issue, an ecological issue, dealing with the 
whole issue of the stereotypical socialization of 
boys for domination and conquest, the whole 
image of men who have to suppress their caring 
parts. And that, too is a very important part of 
this social shift from domination to partnership. 
And we really need to get away from the sexual 
stereotypes because you cannot graft ecological 
consciousness onto a way of living that's funda- 
mentally unbalanced, that's based on the domi- 
nation of one-half of humanity over the other. 
After all, that's all that men and women are — 
we are the two halves of humanity. 

And we also have to look again at the whole 
issue of rape. Because the rape of our planet and 
the rape of women are part of the same domina- 
tor system, aren't they? And it's a suicidal system 
because at a certain level of technological devel- 
opment, and we're rapidly approaching it, the 
mix of a dominator society and high technology, 
takes us to a evolutionary dead end. But the 
problem is not technology, the problem is how 
we use technology, and whether it's in a context 
of a dominator or a partnership society. 

I also want to say to you that we hear a great 
deal about honoring the diversity of nature, and 
respecting that diversity, and not killing the 
dolphins and the elephants, but if we do not 
honor and respect our diversity as humans, 
beginning with the most fundamental difference 
which is the difference between women and men, 

then we don't have a system that honors diver- 
sity. What we must try to break away from today 
is a social system that is based on ranking: the 
ranking of men over women; men over men; of 
nation over nation; or man over nature. And 
what we're trying to move towards, and we've 
come quite a way already, is a partnership 
model, beginning with the most fundamental 
difference in our species, which is the difference 
between female and male, without which we 
couldn't go on. Difference is not equated with 
inferiority or superiority but, on the contrary, 
difference is honored and celebrated. So the 
partnership society is not the society where 
everything is the same. It's a society of equality 
of opportunity but not of sameness, contrary to a 
dominator society in which conformity is de- 
manded even in how you think. 1984 gave you 
the scenario for the dominator society. Not 
coincidentally, Orwell's 1984 was a male-domi- 
nated society. Now again I want to say this is not 
a issue of women against men; whatever you 
take away from my talk today, that's not it. 
That's not what it's about. It's about valuing our 
differences beginning with that fundamental 
difference, then we can value racial difference 
and we can value cultural difference and we can 
truly value the splendor of the variety of the 
natural habitat on this planet. 

Now, these are early societies that we are now 
rediscovering, that I deal with in some detail in 
The Chalice and the Blade, these findings of archae- 
ologists James Melaart, and Marija Gimbutas at 
UCLA, and Nicolas Platon who excavated the 
Minoan civilization of Crete which is the last 
known historical civilization which was based on 
the partnership model. This information, which is 
causing a big furor in the archaeological commu- 
nity today, challenges so many of the old as- 
sumptions; this information challenges the story 
that domination and conquest are inevitable, that 
male dominance and warfare are inevitable. This 
information is very important to us today be- 
cause it verifies so much of what so many of us 
have really known inside — that we don't have 
to live in this miserable and tense way. Look at 
what's happening in society today, for example, 
with millions of people saying, "we all seem to 
come from dysfunctional families." Now of 
course that's the dominator family. It's very 
appropriate for the dominator model of society, 
isn't it, but it's totally inappropriate for the kind 
of society that we need, which is a partnership 
society and so this awareness of dysfunctional 
families is a tremendously important partnership 

Now I don't mean to say that there's no domina- 
tor resistance. There's tremendous dominator 
resistance, but the important thing is that once 
we begin to understand the connections, it isn't 
all such a confusing mush. We begin to see that, 
yes, there is a relationship between rape and wife 
beating and child beating and the rape of nature 
and warfare and the fact that we're on the brink 
of destroying our planet; that these dominator 
ways don't work, and a lot of what's happening 
in our time is not random and disconnected. Be it 
in our attempts to change our family relations, 
particularly in our attempt to move more toward 
a partnership between women and men, be it in 
our understanding that the nuclear age is obso- 
lete, or be it in our increasing understanding that 
we have to have a whole new way of living with 
nature. In partnership. So this information is 
empowering. It has been for me. And it has been 
for many other people who are able to use it to 
find intervention points, who are able to think 
now in a more systems way and who also now 
have the information that we can create a less 
tense, more balanced, sustainable, future. We did 
it once before. There was a shift in our pre- 

history from the ancient partnership which 
archeology is now documenting, to a dominator 
society. But it (the dominator model) has lasted 
only for a relatively short time in evolutionary 
terms, less than 5,000 years. In evolutionary time, 
that's very little. We could think of it in terms of 
the "dominator detour." It's a detour that could 
take us to a evolutionary dead end. But we also 
have the realistic possibility not to break down 
but to break through. Not to go back to the so- 
called good old days, but to use the best modern 
technology in the context of a partnership society 
so that we can in fact construct for ourselves and 
our children a far more satisfying, more respect- 
ful and sustainable way of living in partnership, 
not only with nature, but with one another. I 
thank you. 

Riane Eislcr is an internationally known scholar in peace and 
feminist issues, a futurist, a lecturer, an attorney, and 
codirector of the Center for Partnership Studies. She is the 
author of Dissolution: No Fault Divorce, Marriage, and the 
Future of Women, The Equal Rights Handbook, and her most 
well known book, The Chalice and the Blade. 


Conference: International Women's Writing Guild 

Washington D.C. 

Cynthia Ogorek 

The worst blizzard of the winter hit in late Febru- 
ary, the morning I left for the International 
Women's Writing Guild conference in Washing- 
ton, D.C. However, my before-dawn trek was 
rewarded some 800 miles east and south of here 
by sunshine and early daffodils outside the B&B 
where I stayed. 

The bigger reward for the effort, however, was 
the conference itself and the National Museum of 
Women in the Arts where it was held. 

The conference was titled "Ringing the Gong: 
Writing to Change the World/The Environment." 
About one hundred women, mostly from the east 
coast, gathered there to find out how we could 
improve our writing when it comes to environ- 
mental issues. 

We started the day in the Museum's pink, white 
and gray auditorium, with exercises to flex the 
mental muscles. As the audience relaxed, we 
offered our comments which included local 
projects such as home sales parties for environ- 
mentally safe products and stories about how our 
children are reacting to the realities of toxic waste 
dumps and acid rain. 

Lunch was buffet-style. On the mezzanine, in an 
environment of pink and white marble and 
enormous crystal chandeliers, we met informally 
to exchange "war stories" and some success 
stories about how things had improved at least in 
our neighborhoods, if not globally. 

The afternoon session was billed as a "pot- 
pourri," and the highlight was the welcoming 
speech given by Hannelore Hahn, executive 
director and founder of IWWG. The speech in its 
entirety appears in these pages and I hope it will 
inspire you, as it has me, to "forage." 

To forage, as a writer and as a citizen of the 
world, for the words and ideas that will convince 
those not already convinced that every day is 
Earth Day. 


How does a writer get started? How does she 
make sure her readers understand her concerns 
about the state of our environment? 

One of the most valuable sessions in that respect 
was the presentation by L. W. Peat O'Neil, 
assistant to the editor of the Washington Post Style 
section. O'Neil also writes a twice-weekly col- 
umn on volunteering and teaches writing. 

Peat O Neil 

She has developed three exercises to get the 
creative juices flowing in writers, both the profes- 
sionals and those who simply take pleasure in 
writing letters to the editors. For the conference, 
she tailored the exercises to fit writing about the 

Our goal as environmental writers, she said, was 
to get through to editors and ultimately to the 
people who wreck our environment. 

"There is a responsibility to bring other people 
along with us," she said. Writers can get people 
to change. We just have to be creative. 

Exercise 1. Getting the vocabulary. 

Take a few quiet minutes and write down every 
word or phrase you associate with earth and 

Some of the audience's responses were: biode- 
gradable, harmony, partnership with the earth, 
serenity, generation and renewal, trees, water, 
symbiotic relationship, the notion of being 
grounded or centered. 

Save your list and add to it. 

"Use the list to charge you up," she said, when 
you write to change the environment. 


Exercise 2. Stepping Stones. 

Try to remember six or seven events in your life 
that had to do with your relationship to the 
environment. Do you camp? Did you make 
firefly rings as a child? (Even the not-so-pretty 
memories can be useful.) Do you have a favorite 
tree? Have you participated in an Earth Day 

This exercise will help you focus your thoughts 
and ideas about the environment and the issues 
of the day. It will also increase your future 
awareness of nature and your spiritual participa- 
tion with the environment. 

Exercise 3. Noticing. 

Describe the environment for someone who 
thinks of the earth as something to be exploited 
or decimated. 

This final exercise will encourage you to harness 
the vocabulary and anecdotes of the previous 
two in ways that will help your readers visualize 
your concerns and solutions. 

Sometimes, said O'Neil, you have to "treat the 
corporations like children who need to be 

of life on earth in the 21st century. 

For more information about the series and, in 
particular, how it can be used in the classroom, 
contact Anne Blackburn, Outreach Coordinator, 
"Race to Save the Planet," WGBH Educational 
Foundation, 125 Western Avenue, Boston, MA 


1725 K Street, N.W., Suite 914 , Washington, D.C. 20006 

Carol Mulholland, Director of Communications 

The Alliance is a non-profit coalition of government, 
business, consumer and labor leaders dedicated to increasing 
the efficiency of energy use. They conduct research and pilot 
projects and use this information to formulate policy initia- 
tives and to conduct educational programs in the areas of 
environment, affordable housing, competitiveness, national 
security and economic development. 


1001 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 535 

Washington, D.C. 20036 

Marc Ledbetter, Senior Associate 

Offers a catalog of their publications regarding energy 
conservation as well as a pamphlet explaining their work. 


Besides networking among the writers, the 
afternoon session gave us the opportunity to 
gather resources for writing about the environ- 
ment. We heard from representatives of the 
many environmental agencies at work in the 
country. They explained their goals and the types 
of research material they made available to the 

The first speaker was Anne Blackburn, National 
Outreach Coordinator of WGBH-TV in Boston. 
She presented video-clips from "Race to Save The 
Planet," a series of 10 one-hour programs that 
will be broadcast this fall on public television 
stations throughout the country. 

The series is the cornerstone of public television's 
Operation Earth campaign, she explained. The 
campaign is a "multifaceted" effort to focus 
attention on the environment. 

The concept for the programs came out of 
Worldwatch Institute's "State of the World" 
reports and will feature programs on population 
growth, soil erosion, deforestation, climate 
changes induced by human activity and indi- 
viduals around the world who are making the 
critical decisions that will determine the quality 



1730 North Lynn Street, #610, Arlington, Virginia 22209 
Dianne Eppler, Director of Operations 


801 Pennsylvania S.E., Washington, D.C. 20003 

Connie Mahan, Grass Roots Coordinator 

Pamphlet available regarding public policy, activism, science 
and education. Also a bimonthly newsletter called "Activ- 


1100 17th Street, N.W., Suite 502, Washington, D.C. 20036 
Glen Olds, President 


P.O. Box 1273, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87504 

Mary Lou Cook, private citizen 

Ms. Cook delivered an address which explained her group's 
tactics in preventing the construction of a nuclear waste 
dump in the Santa Fe area. 


1525 New Hampshire Avenue, N.W. 
Washington, D.C. 20036 
Nicholas A. Fedoruk, Director 


6202 Seminole Place, Berwyn Heights, Maryland 20740 

Ted Lefkowitz, Urban Peace Trees Project Coordinator 

Sponsors an international exchange program for kids which 
teaches them about the environment and how other coun- 
tries approach the problems. 


122 C Street, N.W., #700, Washington, D.C. 20001 

Beth Nalker. Fact sheet available describing how it keeps 
Congress informed about environmental issues. 


1616 P Street, N.W., Suite 150, Washington, D.C. 20036 
Lois Epstein, Environmental Engineer 


1325 G Street, N.W., Suite 915, Washington, D.C. 20005-3104 
Terry D'Addio, Director, Management Services 
Newsletter, 'Interaction" 


1918 Bonita Avenue, Berkeley, California 94704 

Green Library provides ecological and environmental 
literature to people in areas hit by ecological crisis. It also 
promotes education and public commitment by assisting 
with the establishment of ecological libraries in those areas. 
Green Library's goals are to establish a network of environ- 
mental libraries, to promote ecological education and to 
participate in initiatives designed to improve the quality of 
life. The organization is looking for groups to sponsor and/ 
or house such libraries and for donations of appropriate 
books and literature. 


1436 U Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20009 

Blair Palese, Media Department 

Publishes "FutureFile," a newsletter and "Greenpeace 
News," releases about Greenpeace activities and events. 


1400 16th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036-2266 

Ann Krumboltz, Director, Earth Day Programs 

Dena Leibman, Office of Legislative Affairs 

Among other things, this group publishes "Conservation 90" 
every three weeks when Congress is in session in order to 
keep its members informed about legislative action on 
environmental issues. 


1730 N. Lynn Street, Suite 610, Arlington, Virginia 22209 

S. Rupp, U.S. Export Council for Renewable Energy 

BIOLOGUE, the group's magazine, publishes industry news, 
biomass energy program reports and new technology 


1350 New York Avenue, N.W., #300, Washington, D.C. 20012 
Jessica Landman, Attorney 


1815 N. Lynn Street, Arlington, Virginia 22209 

Ron Gaetz, Media Relations Manager 

Pamphlet and magazine available. The organization sponsors 
an international program (with local chapters) to protect rare 
plants and animals. It finds the money to buy endangered 
areas and hold them until proper care or management can be 


1730 N. Lynn Street, Suite 610, Arlington, Virginia 22209 
Linda Ladas, Director of Programs 
Sandy Rupp, Manager/Editor, Newsletter 
Offers Catalog of Nenewable Energy Publications. 


215 Pennsylvania Avenue, S.E., Washington, D.C. 20003 

Ellen H. Taggart, Assistant to Executive Director 

Publishes U.S. Pirg Citizen Agenda, a quarterly, which covers 
various state and national organizations in regard to 
environmental issues. 


12713 Gordon Boulevard, #86, Woodbridge, Virginia 22192 

This is an umbrella organization for U.S. renewable energy 
industries associations. It promotes renewable energy 
exports such as alcohol fuels, biomass, geothermal, hydro- 
power, photo voltaics, solar thermal, wind and wood. 
Information for businesses attempting to export such 
products or services. 


1776 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036 

Magazine, pamphlet. Purpose is to inform policymakers and 
general public about interdependence of world economy and 
its environmental support systems. 

WorldWIDE News 

World Women in Environment 

1250 24th Street, N.W., 4th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20037 

Purpose is to help women at all levels of society participate 
in the protection of the environment and in the management 
of natural resources. To this end they publish the above- 
mentioned newsletter, are establishing a worldwide network, 
educating the public and policymakers, promoting the 
inclusion of women and their environmental perceptions in 
the design and implementation of development policies, and 
generally mobilizing and supporting women involved in 
these activities. 


Conference: International Women's Writing Guild 

Washington D.C. 


Hannelore Hahn 


We were in the right place at the right time with the 
"Ringing the Gong: Writing to Change the World/the 
Environment" conference at the National Museum of 
Women in the Arts on February 24, 1990 in Wash- 
ington, D.C. It was an electrifying event, comprising 
100 attendees and 25 representatives of major envi- 
ronmental organizations. 

It is a first for the International Women's Writing 
Guild — taking on an issue: the issue of the environ- 
ment. And because of that, I felt I myself needed to 
ring the gong. 

Here are my words of welcome: 

I am honored to welcome you to this Environ- 
mental Forum and to the Guild. I know you 
share with me the desire to move toward solu- 
tions pertaining to our environment. We are all 
gathered here in accord on this and wish for the 
same outcome. 

Many of you, however, do not know each other. 
Hence, one of the purposes of this gathering is, of 
course, to further the network and to strengthen 
our cause. 

Many of you, also, may not know much about 
the network which called this convening. Allow 
me, therefore, to say a few words about The 
International Women's Writing Guild, which, in 
turn, will impact on this afternoon and our 
shared goals. 

First, I will say something about women. 
I feel that women are greatly privileged to have 
been born at a time which allows us to be part of 
a revolution or — as I prefer to call it — an evolu- 
tion. It is an evolution which has led us first and 
foremost in these past two decades towards a 
new sense of self. And it is this honing of a sense 
of self — as a woman and as a person — which, as 
you will see, intimately and importantly connects 
the IWWG with what has been happening to 
women's consciousness. 

And this connection, in the case of the IWWG, 
has to do with writing. 

The Guild has always supported the writing of 
personal experience. Not only from the point of 
literature, but essentially and foremost for the 
honing of that sense of self. Ever since the Guild 
was founded in 1976, it has been an open door to 
any woman who wished, through writing, to re- 
experience, to re-define herself and her life 
through writing and to move on. In this way, the 
Guild contributes importantly and lastingly to 
the betterment of personal as well as social health 
and to the personal and professional empower- 
ment of women. 

And this kind of deep inner empowerment 
brings courage. 

And courage leads me to mention leadership. I 
think we will all agree that there are too many 
people in leadership positions today who have 
not been part of this inner cleansing. And by not 
having gone through this process, these people 
act in reactive ways, projecting old personal 
wounds into subjects that call for adult, mature 
and enlightened solutions. Such people are also 
adept at hiding their immature selves behind 
standard behavior of so-called objectivity, so- 
called impartiality and by pulling rank. 

Which leads me to a documentary I recently saw 
on television about the so-called "new gold" in 
Alaska. The new gold being ice. The film showed 
men hacking away at icebergs, loading huge 
chunks of glacial "gold" into their trawlers and 
businessmen talking happily about how much 
better vodka tastes with glacial ice and touting 
other products such as shampoo, supposedly 
much improved by the newly harvested ingredi- 
ent. To give further substantiation to this plun- 
der, a representative of the state of Alaska, the 
man who gives out the ice harvesting permits, 
said that this was good for Alaska. 

No one brought out the obvious fact that if you 
keep on harvesting the glacial ice, you may 
contribute towards a rapid and catastrophic 

global warming, producing a flood which would 
make the most dire predictions about the end of 
our world come quickly true. 

But, even if this fact had been mentioned, would 
it have stopped the men in the trawlers? This is a 

As representatives of environmental organiza- 
tions, you all know a lot of facts and I am sure 
you have experienced, and will experience in the 
future, the great frustration vis-a-vis well-posi- 
tioned opponents, whose perceptions are mired 
in departmentalized thinking, who cannot see a 
relationship of one thing to another, who cannot, 
or do not want to see the forest for the trees and 
whose often well disguised immature selves 
insist on the bottom line: personal gain, immedi- 
ate profit and the status quo. What is it then that 
will make the difference? 

Quite some time ago, I was asked by Professor 
Gerald Holton, a physicist at Harvard University, 
to translate The Scientific Correspondence of 
Albert Einstein. The letters were then on deposit 
at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton 
and, before transferring the correspondence to 
Israel, which Einstein had stipulated in his will, a 
translation of them was initiated. It was a fasci- 
nating work and took me into the first two 
decades of our twentieth century when scientists 
were excitedly and openly communicating with 
each other via letters. One of the questions, or in- 
jokes of the time was: Does God play dice? In 
other words, is the world happenstance, or is 
there order and purpose in the universe? That 
was the question. Max Born was a physicist with 
whom Einstein had corresponded frequently and 
at one point in going through their letters, I 
noticed a cooling off in their relationship — and 
then I came to this pivotal letter in which Ein- 
stein says to Born: 

'My dear Born: As far as God playing dice is 
concerned, I believe in an ordered universe and 
in an energy that is related to that universe. But 
my approach in finding that order and that 
energy that is related to that order is in a wildly 
chaotic way. You, my dear Born, do not believe 
in an ordered universe, or in an energy related to 
it. But you approach chaos in a very orderly 

Apples and Pears. If we translate the God play- 
ing dice question of that day into our present day 
question of the environment, it is still the same: 
apples and pears. From that vantage point, 
humanity has not changed. There were always 
apples and pears, believers and non-believers, 
hawks and doves. Therefore, if the environment 
is mother nature, which it is, then it is female. 

And it is the feminine which is being raped and 
up for grabs by that other energy. I am putting it 
crassly, but these two energies — male and female, 
apples and pears- -are again and still the main 
players in our current drama. In other words, if 
we are to look at the subject of the environment 
in the largest possible perspective, long before, or 
alongside the quantification of pollution, or the 
identification of toxic waste, we must see our 
dilemma in the very largest sense — as an enact- 
ment and re-enactment of two opposite forces: 
the linear, warrior male and the nurturing, 
cyclical female. Or call it what you will. 

Now here we are, a bunch of women and some 
enlightened men. My talk today will not address 
the long-range question of how do we strengthen 
the feminine side in men (which certainly is an 
evolution that is yet to come), but for the mo- 
ment, my question is: How do we get into the 
game with the present players, without becoming 
one of them? Or, how do we create a position of 
strength that will be counted by the players even 
though we are not one of them? 

I have an answer for the latter. The answer is 
numbers. Numbers have always weighed in 
politically and women have always been gather- 
ers. Anthropologically, we were the ones who 
gathered seeds, grains, berries. We always gath- 
ered. We know how to do that. So, let's forage. I 
know there are millions of voices who have to be 
gathered and who have not been heard. These 
voices, which have been silent and silenced, 
certainly during the 80's, are in our camp. They 
are our constituency. We will gather and in this 
decade, we will find. 

And now, let me take you back to the year 1963 
for a moment. That was the year President 
Kennedy was shot. Everybody knows that. But if 
I am not mistaken, that was also the year a book 
came out: The Feminine Mystique, by Betty 
Friedan. I remember hearing about this book and 
what it was about. But I did not read it. I was at 
the time a single working mother hoping to re- 
marry. Yet, thirteen years later, that same single 
working mother founded The International 
Women's Writing Guild. (Still didn't read the 
book and still unmarried.) 

Why do I mention this? I mention it because it 
seems to me to be an excellent example of a case 
where information is available but because of 
personal circumstances, or of not being ready, it 
is seemingly not absorbed. Yet, subliminally, 
something did happen in the course of time. 

The information about the environment is on our 
side. Whether it is readily accepted, or even 
actively opposed, this should not unsettle us, 


because, as in the example just cited, conscious- 
ness raising facts seep in subliminally. 

Perhaps, in the large scheme of things, women's 
consciousness had to be raised first. And now, 
after almost a quarter of a century, a 
consciousness raising on the environment on the 
part of all of humanity is next. 

One more thing: The environment is not relative. 
Actually, the recognition of this, seeing it this 
way, rings in a wondrous new beginning. It rings 
in the re-discovery and the re-acceptance of laws: 
natural laws. And of order: universal order. This 
is not unlike what Einstein wrote to Born some 
seventy-five years ago. Though, ironically, his 
time rang in seven and a half decades of chaos. 

But now, I feel the issue of the environment is 
ringing in a new time. Oh yes, a funny thing 
happened in Berlin. . . Well, no one, not even our 
most know-it-all pundits thought this would ever 
happen. Certainly not in their life time and, 
certainly, not in the way it did. So fast and 
without struggle. Well, that's what I mean. . . 

And with that, let us take heart, because: 

This is a good time, 

This is a fine time, 

And this is, indeed, our time. 

The International Women's Writing Guild, founded by Ms. 
Hahn in 1976 and guided by her as its Executive Director, is 
a wide network for the personal and professional 
empowerment of women through writing. The 5,000 strong 
Guild, with members throughout the United States and in 24 
countries, attracts and is attuned to an enormously diverse 

Ms. Hahn, graduate of the University of Southern California 
and earlier a student at famed avant-guarde Black Mountain 
College, holds an honorary doctorate from Skidmore 
College. She is the acclaimed author of On the Way to Feed the 
Swans, first volume of an autobiographical trilogy. 


Conference: Soviet- American Citizen Summit on the Environment 



Rosemary Matson 

At the Soviet Consulate in San Francisco, the 
Head of the Visa Department said, as he handed 
me my visa: "You women have a good meeting. 
Get this mess in the environment cleaned up." I 
said: "You men always make these messes and 
expect us women to clean them up." He looked 
startled, laughed, a little embarrassed, and an- 
swered: "Of course!" 

The Soviet Women's Committee in Moscow had 
called this meeting "Women - Peace - Ecology" 
for early last June. In their invitation to one 
hundred international women, they stated they 
wanted "to enlarge the role of women in seeking 
solutions to the environmental crisis currently 
facing our planet." 

Women came from 26 countries, representing a 
diversity of geographic, cultural and political 
backgrounds. Women from Austria, Belgium, 
Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, 
Finland, France, both Germanys: FGR and GDR. 
Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Malta, 
Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Roma- 
nia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United 
States. One woman came from Nairobi, Kenya. 
More than fifty Soviet women participated. 
It was a fascinating time to be in Moscow. The 
newly elected Congress was in session every day. 
Many things in the City were at virtual standstill 
as Soviet workers - sales clerks, waiters, taxi 
drivers - were glued to television and radios 
listening intently to the speeches, harangues, 
criticisms and suggestions that poured forth from 
the Peoples Delegates at the Congress. 

Zoya Pukhova, President of the Women's Com- 
mittee, is a Peoples Deputy. On the first day, she 
brought several women deputies to speak to us 
and to answer any questions we might have. 
They told us they were "working under condi- 
tions of total democracy" and would talk about 
"whatever we wanted to talk about." We heard 
from them the idea of an International Green 
Cross which President Gorbachev had first pro- 
posed on December 7, 1988 in his address to the 
United Nations. Based on the idea of the Interna- 
tional Red Cross which responds to disaster and 
crisis involving people, the International Green 
Cross would respond to disaster and 

crisis involving the environment anywhere in the 

Our week together included several excursions to 
environmental projects as well as theme talks, 
plenary sessions and workshops around the three 
themes chosen by the participants: International 
Security and Ecology, Health and Ecology, and 
International Cooperation by Women. I partici- 
pated in two of the workshops which spoke to 
my interests: one on the Brundtland Report: Our 
Common Future, and the second one on Eco- 

The Brundtland Report is an important document 
but very little known in the United States. Adri- 
enne van Melle of the Netherlands presented the 
Report saying that "ecology has no borders. 
When we dump our garbage or poison on a poor 
country across the globe, it's crazy to think it 
won't wash up on our own shores." 

In 1982, the General Assembly of the United 
Nations asked the World Commission on Envi- 
ronment and Development to evaluate the causes 
of the breakdown of the planetary ecosphere and 
to produce a global agenda for change. Gro 
Harlem Brundtland, Prime Minister of Norway, 
chaired this Commission. Twenty-one nations 
were represented from all regions and experts in 
areas of foreign affairs, finance, agriculture, 
health and ecology participated. The Report 
assesses the many crises we face, i.e., global 
warming, depletion of the ozone layer, contami- 
nation of the water, destruction of forests and 
soil erosion, hazardous waste, loss of wildlife 
habitat and species, over-population, and then 
points out that the crises come from the military, 
the cost of the arms race, from development that 


is not sustainable, from poverty and affluence, 
from injustice and imbalance between the haves 
and the have-nots. 

Long-term strategies for achieving a globally 
sustainable development to the year 2000 and 
beyond are proposed. Environment is defined as 
"where we live" and development as "what we 
do with our lives." The UN in accepting the 
Report last year, acknowledged that it must be 
kept at the forefront of the UN agenda, but that 
each nation also must be involved in fulfilling its 
mandate for bringing about the called-for 

Reaction to the Report has been mixed, with 
some countries giving it little publicity and 
showing no interest. However, some countries, 
like Finland, have appointed a prominent com- 
mittee to study the Report and to draw conclu- 
sions about it for their country. The Soviet 
women reported that their government is solidly 
behind the Report and copies have been distrib- 
uted to each Republic for action by their local 
Councils. There is very little known about the 
Brundtland Report in the United States. I had 
difficulty obtaining a copy and got mine from 

The workshop on Eco-Feminism presented by my 
friend Hilkka Pietila of Finland was of great 
interest to me. Hilkka and I had exchanged 
articles and books on the subject and both con- 
sider ourselves eco-feminists. The coming to- 
gether of ecology and feminism involves new 
thinking about the environmental crises we are 
facing today. Eco-feminists are interested in 
searching for the root cause of our problems. 
They ask "Why have we come to this situation in 
the world? ...not just how to put out the fires that 
are raging around us" Hilkka said, "but who or 
what is starting the fires? Only when we know 
that, can we stop the fires." 

Feminism, with its new way of looking at things, 
reveals that it is our attitude toward the Earth, as 
something which is separate from us, to be 
conquered, used, dominated, that is the basis of 
the problem. 

The system of patriarchy we live under ranks 
everything in order of power and importance. 
The hierarchical chain of command that perme- 
ates all of our social institutions ranks male over 
female, adults over children, owner over worker, 
rich over poor, have over have-nots, human over 
non-human Nature. It incorporates the right of 
the human to treat non-human Nature as private 
property and material wealth to be dominated 
and exploited. It is only when we can break out 

of this pattern of patriarchy and begin to realize 
that everything is interdependent on this planet, 
that we can begin to save it and ourselves. 

We are discovering today that a plant can carry 
out photosynthesis without human beings, but 
we human beings cannot exist without the photo- 
synthesis of the plants. We need the trees we are 
destroying, to give us oxygen to breathe. By 
cutting down the trees, we are in essence com- 
mitting suicide. 

These were new ideas to many of the women 
present at the meetings, but they understood the 
practice of domination because each woman had 
experienced being dominated and exploited in 
her life. 

To have an opportunity to share concerns on an 
international basis with our sisters was pro- 
foundly exciting. One point became extraordinar- 
ily clear to us all: we need much broader partici- 
pation by women, both scientists and representa- 
tives of environmental movements, in all negotia- 
tions and decision- making bodies — in the coun- 
cils of government and the United Nations. 

When the fate of the planet is decided, women 
must have full representation — if we are to save 

(For a more complete report of the Moscow 
meeting, write to Rosemary Matson, Box 1710, 
Carmel Valley, CA 93924.) 


Conference: Soviet - American Citizen Summit on the Environment 


JoAnn Cannon 

A memory often fades over time, yet I can still 
hear the sound as clearly as if it were last eve- 
ning. I was attending a crowded meeting of 
people from the African villages around the 
school where I was an early Peace Corps Volun- 
teer. Issues were being discussed that would 
affect the whole community. Sitting outside in 
the cooler night air with a few others, I suddenly 
heard a sound I had never heard before in my 
life, a trill-like sound that started softly but began 
to grow with intensity. 

"Listen! What is that sound?" I asked with a 
degree of awe. Several people leaned forward, 
listening. When they didn't respond, I asked 
again, "That one there, can't you hear it?" It was 
frustrating trying to describe the sound that was 
so very distinct to me, yet seemed inaudible to 
them "Oh that's the women's voices!" one finally 
acknowledged with a nod. 

The realization that women in agreement and 
excitement made their own special sound 
brought silence to my own voice, in that moment 
so many years ago. I remember not knowing then 
how to express what was in my own heart. 
Although country, language, color, custom and 
culture ostensibly divided us, there was a sound 
being made that was of my own identity as a 
woman and bonded me with them. The tone I 
heard rang with unity of purpose and power and 
had a dash of celebration and encouragement. I 
knew the issues discussed in the village that 
night would affect everyone, even as yet unborn 
generations, and I wanted to say out loud. . . 

As a participant in the "Women for Change" 
Task Force of the 1990 Soviet- American Summit 
in Moscow, I am clear how "OUT-LOUD" that 
message still needs to be said, believed, and 
acted upon. Across the planet, no matter where 
you look, you can find a woman setting a new 
pace, pointing to different priorities, reasserting 
lost values, asking additional questions, grap- 
pling with the "whys" and asserting Mother 
Earth's interests. Yet to some governments, some 
businesses, some organizations, among some 
men, and yes, even among some women, such a 

woman may still be inaudible or invisible. But 
look and see, her presence will be making a 

I am clear that the women around the world 
seeking to take greater responsibility for their 
own and the earth's affairs, with all the risks 
involved, have not done so for economic reasons 
alone. There is a felt need in every society to DO 
THINGS DIFFERENTLY! Bringing resources and 
leadership to the things that will make for a 
peaceful and sustainable global environment is 
essential to explore. 

This last year we have seen some impressive 
examples of what women contribute when 
narrow perspectives are shed and faces turn 
together toward values that will be needed in the 
21st century. Japanese women became a force to 
show their own Prime Minister the exit off-ramp. 
Young women were leaders in the Democracy 
Movement in China. Women in Kenya are re- 
thinking economics, if the bottom line for profits 
results in the decimation of a species as elegant 
as the elephant. European women have taken 
committed leadership roles toward total nuclear 
disarmament on behalf of our entire planet. 

Men and women working co-creatively, who 
bring a transitional and transgenerational per- 
spective, become beacons and examples. What 
will we be showing each other and ourselves in 
this coming decade? What we do, and value and 
support has long-term effect. Our planet is 
shrinking and the skeleton of our interconnec- 
tions is now apparent. 

It has been the deep sharing of women's voices 
in heart to heart dialogues, plus telling the truth 
about our lives and concerns, that paved the way 
for many of the strides experienced to date. We 
are entering a decade during which it will be 
critical to start anew, listening and talking hon- 
estly with one another and the men in our lives. 
Some of the gains we have so painstakingly 
made this century on behalf of all women and 
children and the planet earth could slip into 
oblivion like quicksand. Our dialogues must 
reflect varying views and a diversity of concerns 
and life experiences. Can we listen anew? I am 
reminded of the seriousness that we must have 
as we face the future, and also the necessity of a 
sense of humor about ourselves, our little egos 
and our chronic world condition. Women are 
bringing to this new decade, not only their voice, 
but their capacity for leadership. Not only level- 
headedness, but a sense of our spiritual connec- 


tion and the gentleness and laughter that can 
release good will and healing. 

What would my heart say "out loud" today if 
once again I heard the sound of women's voices, 
as once so long ago? I would stand proudly 
beside each one of you who is doing your own 
AND the planet's business, and — along with a 
woman associate who wrote the following poem 
with me, would ask all to listen... as we say to 

JoAnn Cannon is President of Inward Bound Adventures, 
based in Chicago. She was a co-guest editor of our special 
issue on Women in the Wilderness, Spring 1981. 

Rise and hear the women take their part 

To lead the path that moves along uniting human hearts. 

We stand and cast our voice and mind anew, 

To bring balance to a world that longs to hear the Future's view. 

Fear enters when we leave behind the known, 

And tempts us to seek shelter in the past - although it's gone. 

But there are always a courageous few 

Who will risk their very beings 

as the old transforms to new. 

It's not so much a case of forging through, 

As following the stepping stones as they come into view, 

Trusting each new step will be revealed - 

And this might be the way in which this broken world is healed. 

And this might be the way in which this broken world is healed. 


Videoconference: Corporate America and the Environment 


Sally Petrilli 

Panelists from left, Jerry B. Martin, Dow Chemical U.S.A., host Bill Curtis, WBBM-TV/CBS in Chicago, 
William J. Schwalm, Polaroid Corporation, and Shelley Yastrow, MacDonald's Corporation. 

You take some chances when you produce a live 
television event with panelists across the country. 
You take the chance that a panelist won't show 
up, that the discussion will occasionally wander 
off the point or a caller will ask a different ques- 
tion than the one you're expecting, that some- 
thing will go wrong with a satellite feed. You 
also hope that the technology will be mostly 
invisible, allowing the focus to be where it be- 
longs - on the content of the program. All these 
things happened during Corporate America and the 
Environment - a national videoconference that 
originated from Governors State University in 
April. Moderated by Bill Kurtis of WBBM-TV/ 
CBS in Chicago, the talk centered around the 
effects on the business world of what Lester 
Brown of Worldwatch Institute calls, "the forces 
of ecological decline." Fifty-eight corporate and 
university sites joined the national panel, many 
contributing to the discussion via open phone 

Planning for the videoconference began with 
identifying experts on the environment, spokes- 
persons for business and industry, government 
representatives and members of the social invest- 
ment community as well as case studies to 
illustrate successes and positive directions. We 
were assisted in all this by a national advisory 
panel that met for a day of intensive work in 
Washington, D.C. at the Smithsonian Institution. 
Interest and cooperation were high. Our camera 
crew went to the East and West coasts to do 
interviews and acquire footage to be incorporated 
into the videoconference. Fifteen people agreed 
to participate from studios in Washington, D.C, 
San Francisco and here in University Park. 
The issues covered a wide range of environ- 
mental concerns. Jay Hair, CEO of the National 
Wildlife Federation, talked about the need for 
leadership - from the business community, from 
the public and from government. He called for 
EPA cabinet status so that "the environment can 


be represented at the highest level of govern- 

Recycling and source reduction of wastes, by 
individuals and by corporations, was a major 
topic. Harold Greshowitz, Senior Vice President 
of Waste Management, Inc., said that "recycling 
is the strongest grass roots movement in the 
country." Jerry Martin, Director of Environ- 
mental Affairs for Dow Chemical and William 
Schwalm, Senior Manager for Environmental 
Programs in Polaroid's manufacturing opera- 
tions, talked about the cost-effectiveness of their 
companies' waste reduction and recycling pro- 
grams. Shelby Yastrow, Senior Vice President 
and head of the Environmental Task Force at 
McDonalds, described his company's efforts to 
meet the growing environmental awareness of 
consumers and to deal responsibly with environ- 
mental issues in the face of consumer boycotts. 
He said, "We have to make good decisions fast." 
Joel Makower, co-author of The Green Consumer, 
said, "Consumers are sending a message to 
corporate America. The market place is not a 
democracy. You don't need 50% to effect change 

- more like 15%. People are looking for ways they 
can vote for the environment when they open 
their wallets." 

A recurring theme was the feeling that it is in the 
economic self- interest of business to develop an 
environmental ethic. Though much of the action 
by corporations has been a result of "the bottom 
line," William Scranton, CEO of Smith and 
Hawken, a mail order garden supply company, 
agreed with the necessity for environmental 
leadership, adding, "We have an obligation to 
take a role that satisfies our own conscience and 
that of people we work with and this cannot 
always be market driven." And although in- 
volvement must begin at the boardroom level, 
total company participation is important. Jerry 
Martin commented, "Our CEO says, Tm not the 
chief environmentalist at Dow. I'm one of 58 
thousand environmentalists.'" 

Senator Timothy Wirth (D-Colo) and Representa- 
tive John Porter (R-Ill) joined the panel from the 
Senate recording studio to discuss the Clean Air 
Bill Amendments, fortuitously up for vote that 
evening, and other environmental legislation. 
Senator Wirth faulted the automobile industry 
for "reflecting politics of the past" and failing to 
redesign the automobile to use clean fuels - "the 
most cost-effective way to clean our air." The 
Associate Administrator of the EPA, Lewis 
Crampton, talked about "corporate stewardship" 

- the need to be forthcoming with the public, to 
take voluntary actions beyond the law. 

Environmental problems are real and immediate, 
the answers complex. Everyone agreed that there 
have been successes but there is much left to be 
done and we will be engaging in this dialog for 
many decades to come. Big changes are ahead for 
businesses as they strive to comply with the 
increasing maze of environmental regulations 
and social pressures. The panel participants 
suggested that stronger regulations are needed 
and consumers must be willing to give up the big 
waste and pollution creators such as disposable 
diapers and inefficient automobiles. Yet a pro- 
active tone was set. They noted that cooperation 
is possible, that there can be a common meeting 
ground among business, consumers, environmen- 
talists and government. As Jay Hair put it, "It's 
no longer them and us. It's us." 

About those chances you take when you produce 
a videoconference; one of the panelists from the 
Eastern part of the country who was scheduled 
to join the conference from the West Coast in 
combination with a business trip, arrived in the 
San Francisco studio on Eastern time, four hours 
late - apologies were accepted; a lengthy question 
to Senator Wirth concerning the housing market, 
not relevant to our discussion, was quickly 
steered back on track; a caller, telling our phone 
bank that he wanted to talk about the lack of 
discussion on environmental ethics in his busi- 
ness school classes, took his on-air opportunity to 
talk about local water rights problems - could 
have been worse; and while the sound from the 
studio in San Francisco was lost for a while, Bill 
Kurtis skillfully moved the discussion elsewhere. 
And the final result was what we hoped it would 
be - three hours of lively talk and up-to-date 
information about the pressing environmental 
issues that face corporations and small businesses 
today. Will Governors State University do an- 
other live event of this stature? You bet - and the 
sooner the better! 

Sally Petrilli is an Instructional Developer in the Instructional 
Communications Center at Governors State University. She 
was involved with research and content development for the 
videoconference. She notes that though the planning team 
was alert to locating women working for environmental 
concerns from top management position, few were found. 
However, many women are working in the "grass roots" 
movements, the social investment community, and in 
research and consulting positions. 

Information on the purchase of copies of the videoconference 
is available from the Executive Producer, Mel Muchnik - In- 
structional Communications Center, Governors State 
University, University Park, IL (708) 534-5000, ext. 2313. 


Conference: Womanquest, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, April, 1990 

Suzanne Dechnik 


Kendyl Gibbons 

Lady of the season's laughter, 
In the summer's warmth be near; 
When the winter follows after 
Teach our spirits not to fear. 
Hold us in your steady mercy 
Lady of the turning year. 

Sister of the evening star light, 
In the falling shadows stay 
Here among us till the far light 
Of tomorrow's dawning ray. 
Hold us in your steady mercy 
Lady of the turning day. 

Mother of the generations, 
In whose love all life is worth 
Everlasting celebrations, 
Bring our labors safe to birth. 
Hold us in your steady mercy 
Lady of the turning earth. 

Goddess of all times' progression, 
Stand with us when we engage 
Hands and heart to end oppression, 
Writing history's fairer page. 
Hold us in your steady mercy 
Lady of the turning age. 

words © 1990 UUA 

These new words, sung to an old tune ("Come and 
Worship") made Rev. Gibbons the Winner of the UUA 
Hymnbook Competition. 




The earth is a living, conscious being. In com- 
pany with cultures of many different times and 
places, we name these things as sacred: air, fire, 
water, and earth. 

Whether we see them as the breath, energy, 
blood and body of the planet, or as the blessed 
gifts of a Creator, or as symbols of the intercon- 
nected systems that sustain life, we know that 
nothing can live without them. 

To call these things sacred is to say that they 
have a value beyond their usefulness for human 
ends, that they themselves become the standards 
by which our acts, our economics, our laws and 
our purposes must be judged. No-one has the 
right to appropriate them or profit from them at 
the expense of others. Any government which 
fails to protect them forfeits its legitimacy. For it 
is everyone's responsibility to sustain, heal and 
preserve the soil, the air, the fresh and salt wa- 
ters, and the energy resources that can support 
diverse and flourishing life. 

All people, all living things, are part of the earth- 
life, and so sacred. No one of us stands higher or 
lower than any other. Only justice can assure 
balance: only ecological balance can sustain 
freedom. Only in freedom can that fifth sacred 
thing we call spirit flourish in its full diversity. 
To honor the sacred is to create conditions in 
which nourishment, sustenance, habitat, knowl- 
edge, freedom and beauty can thrive. To honor 
the sacred is to make love possible. 

To this we dedicate our curiosity, our will, our 
courage, our silences and our voices. To this we 


Secrets, Dialogues, Revelations: The Art of Betye and Alison Saar 

July 14 - September 16, 1990 

Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago 

A highly unusual exhibition opens at the Museum of Contemporary Art on July 14, composed of 75 
individual works and one collaborative site-specific installation by a mother and daughter pair — Betye 
and Alison Saar. Working on both coasts — Betye in California, Alison in New York City — they also 
call themselves "colleagues, sisters and friends." Explaining this complex relationship, Betye says, 
"When we are separated, we're mother and daughter, but when we come together, we're sisters." 

Art critics who have reviewed this show at UCLA have liked to focus on their similarities and 
differences. They cite Betye's refined and mystical evocations of Pacific Rim cultures, the lyrical, organic 
quality of her California setting and place in contrast Alison's "gritty urban edge," often shocking and 
demanding, influenced by her rough and tough NYC environment. 

The artists themselves cite their connections, their habits of sharing materials, the found objects they 
each prefer, and their mutual influences and interactions. In their collaborative work, "The House of 
Gris Gris," the theme of home as a nurturing nest and a place of spiritual renewal brings their visions 
into a coherent whole. 

In the film "Spirit Catcher", one of a series on "The Originals: Women in Art," Betye is asked by the 
interviewer, "How do you reconcile the two roles of mother and artist?" and Betye replies, laughing, 
"What's the difference?" 

Readers are urged to go and see this wonderful show, coming to us from the Wight Gallery, UCLA, and 
continuing on to Smith College in Northampton, the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, and the 
Oakland Museum in Oakland, California. Be sure to look for the extremely innovative and original 
catalog designed by Sheila Levrant de Bretteville. 

Prepare yourself to be moved by these secrets and shaken by these revelations, prepare to cross a 
boundary line between the worlds; plan to be quiet in these halls and spaces, to take a risk, to be open to 
the unexpected and the mystery of the unknown. To find something of beauty and value in what has 
been discarded, to discern traces of life and eerie power in much-used objects, to hear those echoes of 
love and loss , such is the gift that awaits you in the art of Betye and Alison Saar. 

Alison Saar and Betye Saar with the figure LAZARUS, 1988, wood, paint and 
rhinestoncs by Alison Saar. Photograph by Anthony Barbosa. 


Secrets, Dialogues, Revelations: The Art of Betye and Alison Saar 

July 14 - September 16, 1990 

Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago 

Dr. Damballa's ]u-Ju, 

1989, free-standing assemblage, 

Betye Saar 





Marilyn Fischbach 

She lies perfectly still, twenty feet below the 
surface. The water is crystal clear, blue. The 
ocean is calm, the wind barely rippling the water. 
She is perfectly still. 

I float on the surface. She is directly below me, 
bigger and grayer than I ever imagined. Resting, 
motionless, the whiteness of her fins glows a 
metallic azure color. To see her is a feast for my 

I am still, except for my breathing. My breathing 
is involuntary, even with an unfamiliar snorkel, 
my breath just comes. I try to breathe quietly, I 
don't want to make any noise to break the spell 
of the moment. She lies perfectly still — not 
breathing at all. 

She lies perfectly still, twenty feet below me, a 
humpback whale, 40 tons, thirty or more feet 
long. She allows me to observe her universe. 
Silently her calf glides out from under her fin 
and moves toward me. I am in such awe that I 
did not even notice the calf. 

The calf comes toward me. Closer she comes, 
looking at me (or so I assume). For an instant I 
wonder if I should move. What if the calf doesn't 
know how fragile I am in the water? The instant 
passes, I look at the calf, the calf looks at me. 
Then she turns and swims down to her mother. 
She touches her mother with her fin. They both 
turn toward me and then down away from me, 
away to eventually surface to breathe. 

I stay still for a few more moments. I can hardly 
believe what just happened. My immediate re- 
sponse is to laugh. My laughter brings coughs 
and sputters — I'm still in the water with my 
snorkel. As I haul myself into the boat I say to 
myself, "I have seen whales in their environment. 
I was with them in the water." With a sense of 
sheer delight I add, "And, I was seen by two 

Considering that we live in a world so entirely 
different from the world in which whales 
dwell, and that most of us never see them at 
all, and considering that everything surround- 
ing their lives is shrouded in almost complete 
ignorance, it is a little hard to understand just 
where an interest in whales arises.. .all we need 
to know is that it does arise. Whales tend to 

lodge in the hearts of people — sometimes they 
lodge crosswise where they stick for life. 

Roger Payne 

For reasons I don't understand, whales are 
caught in my heart, so much so that I journeyed 
4,250 miles to volunteer my time for 14 days to 
work with the Pacific Whale Foundation in Maui, 
Hawaii. The PWF has an internship program for 
ordinary citizens who want to learn more about 
whales, assist in on-going research, and support 
efforts to learn more about whales and their 
ocean environment. 

The internship was a com- 
bination of work and fun. 
Everyone understood 
that our time in 




was more 
than just a 
holiday. Our 
work, for 
even a short 
time, would be 
added to the work of 
other seasons. Part of our work was to go out 
early every morning in small boats to survey 
sections inside Maalea Bay and survey sections 
just outside the Bay. We were trying to determine 
the actual location of whale pods. When a pod 
was spotted, we attempted to get ID photos of in- 
dividual whales by getting photographs of the 
underside of the tail. The photos become part of 
an ever increasing catalogue of identified whales. 
These catalogues are used when whales are re- 
spotted in their summer feeding grounds or in 
other winter migration areas. In this way, whales 
can be followed and observed and studied with- 
out harm. 

Humpbacks are an endangered species. At one 
time there were thousands of humpback whales. 
The northern Pacific population now contains 
between 2,000 and 3,000 individuals. They were 
hunted to the point of near extinction. And, the 
jury is still out as to whether or not they will be 
able to re-establish themselves. 

There used to be millions of whales in all the 
world's oceans. From 1949 to 1962 more than a 

million and a half whales were killed. Killed and 
used to make soap and cosmetics and buttons 
and ribs for umbrellas and golf bags and nitro- 
glycerine for bombs. We did not need to kill 
whales to make these products, but we did. The 
factory ships went out year after year. If they 
could wound a calf, they would be sure to get 
the mother. Factory ships used sonar and air sur- 
veillance and exploding harpoon guns. In 30 
minutes an entire whale could be reduced to 
nothing but its pieces. Nothing was wasted, 
except for the whale. In today's market a whale, 
a dead one, is worth from between $1 5,000 to 
$25,000. There are so few whales left that it is 
finally too expensive to hunt them. 

Whaling originated with coastal people who 
discovered that a whale could provide meat and 
materials for a whole village. The death of a 
whale was a gift to people. It took great skill and 
courage to go out onto the ocean and kill a whale 
and bring it back. It was hard to imagine killing 
more whales than could be used. 

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries whal- 
ing became a business. Whale oil provided the 
fuel for lights, lights in homes, on street corners, 
in factories. Whale oil was used because petro- 
leum had not yet been discovered. In the middle 
1800s, some 70,000 men, in the United States 
alone, were employed in the whaling industry. 
The demand for oil was great and profits were 
high. Men had ships that could master the sea. 
They could hunt whales mid ocean and not just 
along the coast. It became possible to kill more 
and more whales. As we became more and more 
efficient killers, the whales did not become more 
efficient breeders. 

We killed without thought. Whales must be like 
fish, so plentiful that we could never kill them 
all. But we did. We killed them even when there 
was no longer a demand for their oil. We kill 
them now in the name of research with factory 
ships right behind to turn the research into pet 
food and fertilizer and cosmetics. 

Whales have lived in the oceans for 50 million 
years. We have actively hunted them for 400 
years and have totally decimated their popula- 
tions in the last 70 years. 

We know lots of information about dead whales. 
We learned to estimate their age by examining 
the accumulated layers of wax in their ear canals. 
In female whales, every time they ovulate a scar 
is left on the ovary, so by counting the scars we 
estimated their age at death. We examined the 
rows of baleen, new rows are added up to the 
sixth year. By counting the rows we knew if they 

were six years or younger when they were killed. 
We know how big their hearts were. In a blue 
whale, the heart is four feet across and pumps 
2,500 gallons of blood. The aorta is 18 inches in 
diameter. We have weighed and measured 
hundreds and thousands of dead whales. And 
while we did this, we barely took time to notice 
that whales rarely have any type of cancer in 
their bodies. Most other animals have evidence of 
pathological disease, but whales do not. 

It is only recently that we've begun to study live 
whales. Most of the killing has stopped. The 
great whales — the Blues, the Humpbacks, the 
Right, the Fin, the Sperm are so depleted that 
they may not be able to survive. With the great 
whales gone, nations like Japan, Iceland, Nor- 
way, Argentina are hunting the smaller whales, 
the Sei, Minke, and Beluga. And soon these too 
will be hunted to extinction. 

Now, when it may be too late, we come, people 
like me and hundreds more, come to the whales 
to try to learn about them. In our small boats we 
approach them carefully to take pictures to see if 
we will recognize them again — hopefully, years 
from now. 

Here's some of what we have learned about 

* The northern Pacific population spends the 
summer eating in arctic waters off Alaska. At the 
end of summer they migrate to islands south of 
Japan, Hawaii, the Farallon Islands and Baja to 
mate and calf. During these months they don't 

* We don't know how they know how to get 
from the Arctic to Hawaii. 

* We do not have actual pictures of humpbacks 
giving birth or mating or nursing. 

* The humpbacks are the most surface-active of 
all whales, we can only guess why. It may be a 
form of communication. It may be part of the 
mating ritual. It may be for play. We have seen 
situations where it looks like a calf is being 
taught by the mother or a male escort to leap out 
of the water. Whales also slap their fins and their 
tails on the water. They bring their heads straight 
out of the water and spy-hop or lunge. 

* Their sense of hearing is their most acute 
sense. Their eyes can focus out of the water and 
in the water, but it seems that hearing is their 
most important sense. 

* Humpbacks sing. In the summer time, single 
males can be found suspended in the water 
singing a song that is repeated by other animals 
and is added to and changed each year. There are 


massive low tones and high tone whistles. Off 
Maui, if you dive into the water and go down 
about three feet, you can hear the singing. If the 
whale happens to be close by, you can feel the 
song vibrate through your body. 

* As far as we can tell, there are no extended 
family groupings. A mother will stay with a calf 
for about a year. A calf will nurse for its first 
year, in the early months, gaining a hundred 
pounds a day. 

* We know that some calves and mothers do not 
like to be near boats and there are other calves 
and mothers and escorts that seem to be quite 
curious about people and boats. 

* There have never been any reports of hump- 
backs ramming boats or injuring people. On the 
contrary, there have been reports of whales 
assisting people who have fallen out of boats. 

* Proportionally, the whale brain is larger than 
the human brain. And it is thought that whales 
have the intelligence to communicate and learn 
beyond instinct. 

So, we come to learn about whales. We try to 
count them and observe them and even name 
them. We do this because we don't know how 
else to learn. Whales live under the water in a 
world we cannot see. The whales inhabit an 
environment that has no boundaries. They have 
no property. They do not build or save. 

American Indians believe that whales are the 
keepers and guardians of the world's wisdom. If 
this is so, then we have more to learn from the 
whales than we can learn about them. And 
perhaps in studying the whale, what we really 
learn about is ourselves. 

For me, a land/city person, just to be out on the 
ocean was an adventure. Knowing that whales 
were near brought a sense of wonder to the 
experience. We think that whales play a lot — 
maybe our research with them will help us learn 
to play — to bring a lightness, a sense of wonder 
to what we do. 

We have killed almost all the whales and are 
slowly killing the oceans with our pollution. And 
yet what I learned from the whales was a sense 
of joy, a celebration of the sheer exuberance of 
life. And a hope that there will be whales for 
future generations to learn from. 

NOTE: My experience with the whales was 
strictly supervised. In the water we were ac- 
companied by a marine biologist who was 
taking underwater photographs. In Maalea Bay, 
people and boats are not allowed within 300 
yards of a whale. Elsewhere people and boats 
cannot approach closer than 100 yards. Only 
individuals or organizations with Federal Re- 
search permits are allowed closer approaches. 
The Federal and State laws apply to all people 
and water craft and are strictly enforced. 
Whales can, of course, approach boats or 
people whenever they choose! If you would 
like more information about humpback whales, 
contact the Pacific Whale Foundation: 

Pacific Whale Foundation Suite 25, Kealia 
Beach Plaza 101 N. Kihei Road 

Kihei, Maui, Hawaii 96753 

Marilyn Fischbach is Manager of Training and Development, 
John Crane Inc. She was Guest Editor of our issue on 
Women in Management, Winter, 1989. 

/ / 


r; v 



Marcy Gross 

ine life on the 

grazing in 
a field 

of /*$ ■■ 


their calves. Chickens roaming about the barn- 
yard, squawking and scratching to their hearts' 
content. Nearby, some pigs yawn contentedly 
while others play in their pens, waiting for 
Farmer Joe to come and feed them. Sounds like a 
good, old-fashioned, MacDonald's farm. 

It's a good thing we can still picture it in our 
minds because the idyllic family farm is almost a 
thing of the past. It's rapidly being replaced by 
what's become known as an animal "factory," 
where animals are crammed together in small 
cages and never see the sun, taste the rain or feel 
the grass beneath their feet. The farm "family" 
now consists of automated feeding, water and 
ventilation systems, computerized closed-circuit 
TVs and vacuum pumps. Health comes not from 
exercise and fresh air but from antibiotics and 

"Factory farming" caught on shortly before 
World War II, when farmers began to specialize 
in the year-round production of chickens to meet 
increased demand. Newly-discovered Vitamins A 
and D replaced sunlight and exercise for bone 
development and proper growth. There were 
bigger buildings, bigger flocks and bigger profits. 
Large feed companies put researchers to work 
creating new strains of broader-breasted chicken 
and hybrid corn feed which would result in 
quicker weight gain. Many small farmers didn't 
have enough money for the new factory-type 
production. They went broke or were taken over 
by big-money food producers — "agribusiness." 

Today, 95 percent of chicken farming is in the 
hands of fewer than five companies. Pork and 
beef production has also become large-scaled and 

labor-intensive though not as much as chicken. 
The goal of modern farming is to maximize profit 
by increasing output at the lowest cost. 

Intense controversy has erupted over factory 
farming and the ethical concerns that go with it: 
close confinement, overcrowding or isolation of 
pigs, chicken and calves and the branding, de- 
horning and castration of cattle without anesthe- 

At one end of the spectrum are animal welfarists 
who find the animals' conditions deplorable — 
especially the plight of the veal calf. Dr. Alex 
Hershaft of the Washington, D.C.-based Farm 
Animal Reform Movement paints this picture: 
Taken from his mother the day of birth, the calf 
is chained from the neck in a narrow, unbedded 
crate too small to turn around in. Kept in dark- 
ness to hold down excitement, he's fed a liquid 
diet of skim milk, growth stimulators and antibi- 
otics. This anemic diet results in the kind of pale- 
colored flesh gourmets find desirable. Those that 
survive the chronic diarrhea and respiratory 
disorders are slaughtered at 16 weeks of age. 

"If you keep a calf in a box, deny him solid food, 
fresh air and exercise, you're gonna have a very 
sick animal," says Brad Miller of the San Fran- 
cisco-based Humane Farming Association. He 
points to a recent study at Texas A & M which 
showed conclusively that stress levels increased 
when calves were confined. Virginia veterinarian 
Dr. Matt Graves, who's seen both the confine- 
ment and outdoor "free-range" systems, confirms 
the charges of animal welfare groups. 'Those 
cows can barely get up and are extremely suscep- 
tible to disease. Imagine being in a coffin and 
sucking liquid through a straw, that's what it's 

Chickens are probably the most intensively 
confined animals and their lives are nothing to 
crow about. Hens live in cages layered one on 
top of the other in long, barracks-type buildings 
which hold up to 250,000 hens. Five birds fit in a 
cage the size of a newspaper until they're slaugh- 
tered at about 18 months of age. The wire mesh 
floor cuts into their feet, causing inflamed joints 
and twisted legs. To prevent stress-induced 
fighting from overcrowding, their beaks are 
seared with a hot blade so they won't peck each 
other to death. Male chicks are suffocated or 
gassed at birth and artificial lights are kept on 14- 
16 hours a day to stimulate egg production. 
When hens are no longer productive egg-layers, 
they're killed and made into soup and other 
processed foods. 

Broilers are kept in similar barracks but here 
about 90,000 birds take over the entire floor; 

2 q 

they're killed for their meat at seven weeks old. 
In the time it takes to read this page, over 5,000 
birds, mostly chickens, will be killed. Paul Mel- 
amo left a job in the confinement system to work 
on a free-range chicken farm, Nest Egg Farms of 
Taos, New Mexico. "Chickens don't usually 
engender compassion but after awhile it gets to 
you," he recalls. "The confinement was really 
terrible. They'd be in small, dark areas. Lots of 
cannibalism with caged birds. Here we have very 
little of that!" 

Pig production has also moved into the arena of 
factory farms. According to the People for Ethical 
Treatment of Animals, 90 percent of all pigs are 
closely confined at some point in their lives and 
70 percent are constantly confined. Sows are kept 
pregnant or nursing constantly and are kept in 
metal stalls, unable to turn around. She's only 
allowed to eat, drink and keep teats exposed to 
piglets; hard pen floors result in painful foot 
lesions. Although pigs are naturally peaceful, 
social animals, they resort to cannibalism and 
tailbiting when packed into crowded pens and 
develop neurotic behaviors such as bar-biting 
and head-rocking when isolated and confined. To 
prevent cannibalism, piglets have their tails 
docked — without anesthesia. 

At the other end of the spectrum from the animal 
rights groups are farming industry representa- 
tives. They claim that animal activists wrongly 
attribute human emotions to animals. "Bar-biting 
and pacing may or may not be abnormal — it's a 
subjective interpretation," says Dr. David Meeker 
of the National Pork Producer's Council. "Ani- 
mal rights groups try to put themselves in an 
animals' position. We think that's inappropriate. 
Animals are well-fed, comfortable, warm and 
clean. . . that's basically all an animal wants. "A 
cow doesn't need to exercise," William Boardman 
of Dairy Farmers, Inc. claims. "She uses up a 
tremendous amount of energy just to make 

Researcher Dr. Joy Mench, Department of Poultry 
Science, University of Maryland, says, "We need 
more scientific research to determine whether 
animals feel boredom, frustration, pleasure or 
apprehension of future suffering. I don't feel it's 
been proven one way or the other." 

Somewhere in the middle of the activists and 
industry representatives is Howard Lyman, 
legislative analyst for the National Farmer's 
Union, which represents the 540,000 family farms 
still left. "I wouldn't attach all human feelings to 
animals but I know they respond to a negative or 
positive environment — I've been kicked by more 
than a few cattle who were afraid." 

"Animal activists have to understand why ani- 
mals are treated the way they are," Lyman states. 
"A sow's farrowing crate, for example, prevents 
her from instinctually eating her piglets at birth 
or accidentally crushing them. Piglet mortality 
has decreased greatly since the farrowing crate." 

Referring to the veal crate Lyman states, "The 
veal calf never gets his mother's milk so he's 
extremely susceptible to disease. A veal operator 
has to crate his animals to cut down on disease; 
that way the calf can't turn around and get at the 
bacteria in his stool. After three weeks the calf s 
built up some resistance; then you should get 
them out and exercise them." 

"A successful food producer must take good care 
of his animals — a veal operator should keep the 
mortality rate below 10 percent," Lyman contin- 
ues. "Violate the rules of good management and 
you'll go broke." 

At the root of factory farming is simple econom- 
ics. Free-range farming requires more labor to 
watch over and care for animals; keeping them 
confined results in simpler management with 
fewer staff needed. They have to squeeze maxi- 
mum productivity out of minimum space. "If we 
had to allow a calf more space," Barb Huffman, 
President of the Wisconsin Veal Association 
notes, "it measures into our profitability and 
we'd be out of business. If we changed our 
methods we wouldn't exist." 

Some of the family farmers are locked into 
contractual arrangements with the huge agribusi- 
ness corporations. Free-range veal farmer Rachel 
Nicholl puts it this way: "A confinement farmer 
buys the milk-replacement formula from the 

same company 
that ends up 
buying the 
animals from 
the farmer. The 
formula pro- 
duces the pale, 
anemic color. If 
the meat 
doesn't satisfy 
their demand 
for pale color, 
they'll post- 
pone the sale 
which is a 
burden, eco- 

Same with the 
chicken farmer. 


"He's a slave to the packing industry," says 
Lyman. "Agribusiness has the small farmer in 
economic bondage; he's forced to buy their feed 
and sell to their plant." 

What does the future hold for farm animal 
production? It isn't clear, but reforms seem 
inevitable. A recent Massachusetts bill to improve 
the health of farm animals and promote the use 
of humane practices in animal husbandry was 
voted down. Lyman isn't surprised: "A farmer in 
one state competes with farmers in other states. If 
they're legislated to do certain things out-of-state 
farmers don't have to do, they'll be eliminated 
competitively. You'd have to make legislation 
international to be effective." 

And slowly, advancements are being made on 
the international scene. Last July, Sweden en- 
acted a Farm Animal Bill of Rights, freeing cattle, 
pigs and chickens from the restrictions of inten- 
sive, factory-farming methods. Most of the re- 
quirements will be phased in over the next few 
years, to lift some of the economic burden from 
farmers and give them time to build more spa- 
cious accommodations. 

Veal producers such as Quantock in Great Britain 
have done away with the veal crate in favor of 
the straw-yard system, where there's natural 
lighting and straw bedding. There's better health, 
and therefore fewer drugs are added to the feed. 
The meat is less tender says the Food Animals 
Concerns Trust, a Chicago-based animal welfare 
group. But it's richer in taste and texture, lower 
in fat and contains no potentially harmful drug 
residues. The Netherlands and Switzerland are 
phasing out the cage system and Great Britain 
has banned it. Sweden and Switzerland have 
outlawed the use of tethers for the restraint of 
breeding sows. 

One thing is certain. Improvements and research 
are needed. But before that can happen, both 
sides need to talk. As Dr. Stan Curtis, Professor 
of Animal Science at the University of Illinois 
maintains, 'There is no other nation in the west- 
ern world where there is less fruitful exchange of 
ideas and information between the humane 
movement and production agriculture than right 
here in the U.S." 


Aside from the inhumanity of the conditions 
under which factory farm animals are raised, the 
hottest controversy is over the quality of food 
they produce. Half of all antibiotics manufac- 
tured in the U.S. are given to farm animals on a 
daily basis to combat stress- induced disease. 

Howard Lyman, life-long cattle farmer and 
legislative analyst for the National Farmer's 
Union feels: "If you crowd animals together 
without antibiotics there's gonna be lots of 
disease — there's absolutely no doubt in my 
mind about that." 

In addition to antibiotics the vast majority of 
animals are routinely fed hormones to stimulate 
growth and production. In fact, up until 1979, 
DES — known to cause birth defects in hu- 
mans — was used in cattle feed! Although the 
official position of the National Cattlemen's 
Association is that DES is no longer used, Dr. 
Stan Curtis of the University of Illinois adds: 
"There are probably still ways of getting DES. It 
wouldn't surprise me if some people are using 

The U.S.'s use of antibiotics and hormones hasn't 
endeared us to our European neighbors. Effective 
January 1, 1989, the European Community 
banned U.S. imports of meat from animals that 
were fed artificial growth-inducing hormones, 
even if the meat itself is free of any traces of 

But not everyone finds the use of antibiotics 
objectionable. Dr. Edwin Foster, former Director 
of the Food Research Institute at the University 
of Wisconsin says, "There's no known effect on 
human health from antibiotics used as feed 
ingredients. It might be harmful for antibiotics to 
be used to treat disease, such as mastitis in 
milking cows, if that milk is later consumed by 
one who is allergic to the drug. But I presume 
antibiotics would be metabolized through the 
intestinal tract and not get into human food. 
There is no evidence it stays in the muscle. The 
biggest problem with antibiotics is the issue of 
bacteria resistance — antibiotics used in animal 
feed may result in a meateater becoming immune 
to them which would jeopardize his ability to be 
treated for disease." 

To be safe, more and more people are purchasing 
only free-range animal products: veal, chicken, 
beef and "nest" eggs that have "no antibiotics or 
hormones" written on the package/carton. If 
your supermarket doesn't carry them, ask them 
to; in rural areas, contact your county extension 

Marcy Gross is an editor at Woman's World Magazine. She 
lives in New Jersey. Her main interest is the issue of 
animal rights. 




Bethe Hagens 

I was extremely impressed by a recent article in 
Time magazine that stated researchers were about 
to prove that no one reads books... apart from 
"compelling" books (e.g. Stephen King and the 
Harlequins), that is. People seem to be buying 
books and hoping that their contents will some- 
how come through by osmosis. 

I have always believed that there was a level of 
truth in this idea. I look long and lovingly at 
book covers, but the sheer number of words in 
most books overwhelms me. I don't read quickly 
and have the habit of memorizing what I do get 

The past year has brought an enormous change, 
however. It began with a domestic decision to 
give up control of our house (rooms set aside for 
specific purposes such as eating, bathing, sleep- 
ing; dining room table cleared off; books shelved, 
at right angles to those shelves...) and let it turn 
into a library. There are books everywhere. 
EVERYWHERE. And now that the "library 
feeling" is starting to be an integral and even 
jealously guarded part of our daily life, I have 
become obsessed with dictionaries. All kinds. 
French, German, Hopi, Sanskrit, Greek, Japanese, 
Proto-Indo-European, Gaelic... English! 

My husband Bill Becker and I began to acquire 
books (and dictionaries) in earnest in 1983 as we 
prepared for a presentation of our research at one 
of the first conferences on the Gaia hypothesis. 
(Bill is a design mathematician who worked with 
Buckminster Fuller and has taught at Chicago's 
Adler Planetarium.) We have been working with 
a variety of geometric models of the earth — and 
have come to believe that the mathematics and 
geometry of ancient cultures is directly applicable 
to contemporary modeling in cellular biology 
and astrophysics. (I have written about this for 
Creative Woman and won't repeat myself here.) 
We have been greatly inspired by the linguistic 
connection that binds the "ge" in geometry, 
geology, generate, gene, Genesis... to Ge (Gaia) — 
the Greek word for earth and the goddess of the 

In our research with primal geometric forms 
known as the Platonic solids (Fig. 1), we found 
that one of them — the icosahedron — perfectly 
described the common virus (Fig. 2, #1). This 

Figure 1 

Figure 2 

Figure 3 

The Egyptian MR 

Figure 4 

/ _jH 1440 

^V2592 MUes 

The Egyptian "MR" Tr 
of the Planetary Grid 

iangle in the Geon 




seemed absolutely unbelievable, especially since 
the icosahedron was exactly the model that we 
were using to talk about a kind of skeletal struc- 
ture for the "living energy" of Gaia (Fig. 2, #2). 

I went immediately to the encyclopedia (another 
treasure I have discovered in recent years), 
curious to learn what I could about viruses. 
Ultimately, I wondered where the word "virus" 
came from and ended up in the Oxford English 

"Virus" is a relatively new word, and its vi 
represents a change over time from the original 
Latin root ui. The history of ui (as in uiolare, "to 
force," "to do violence to") and its derivative vi 
(as in vivere, "to be alive," "to live") was so filled 
with contradiction that I wondered if I had made 
some ghastly etymological mistake. 

Apparently ui (and therefore vi) stems from the 
Sanskrit vrt. This latter root, vrt, is nothing less 
than a danger sign in Sanskrit. It is a powerful 
predicative meaning "to be" in the sense of "a 
vibrational happening, a shimmering, unevolu- 
tive eventfulness." Imagine a language universe 
in which nouns and verbs do not exist, in which 
living being "is" rather than "does." (I think the 
deconstructivist psychologists are trying to do 
just this.) The ancient speakers of Sanskrit seem 
to have prized such a state of utterances. Their 
sages warned of the need to "restrain the "vrtti," 
to curb the use of predicatives that "language" a 
reality in which subject and object are separate 
things acted with and upon. 

Latin and other modern Indo-European lan- 
guages more or less locked their speakers into 
philosophical dead-ends Eastern cultures may 
have traditionally avoided. Vrtti have becme the 
touchstones of our speech and our morality. Our 
cultures have languaged a non-living verbal/ 
physical universe in which an object (or being) 
and the qualities it manifests are (even must be) 
increasingly differentiated. I have come to think 
of this as the "Substance Fallacy." 

We have come to believe that our life — our "ac- 
tion" — is separate from us. In geometer-designer 
Buckminster Fuller's words, we "long ago misas- 
sumed that the organism employed by life is the 
life itself instead of merely the vehicle — as if the 
telephone was the communication itself instead 
of merely the instrument." 

The implications of this cultural linguistic choice 
are as overwhelming as the number of words we 
have generated to try to rectify what may have 
been a grave mistake (or non-adaptive evolution- 
ary branch) in our history. One needs only to 
survey words derived from vi to get the picture. 
They preserve, in agonizing clarity if one chooses 

to look, the enigmas and paradoxes embraced in 
modern society: vir and virgo ("man" and 
"maiden"); viron and virga ("sphere" and "rod"); 
virent and virus ("to become green and flourish" 
and "slime, poison"); and virtue ("a power 
distinct from matter" and "efficacy arising from a 
quality of physical or moral nature"). 

This linguistic heritage, with all its contradic- 
tions, is epitomized in the contemporary struggle 
of scientists and public health officials to describe 
and legislate the life that characterizes the 
"thing" we call the virus. What medicine has 
scientifically described as the "life" of the virus is 
almost a linguistic inventory of the vrt deriva- 
tives. The virus has the power of self-assembly 
and replication, but it does not sexually repro- 
duce. Its forms are either spherical/icosahedral 
or rod-shaped/heliacal. It either coexists in a 
healthy living cell or it attacks and destroys its 
host. It exists as both a "hollow shell" of crystal- 
lized protein or as an ordered complex of viral 
nucleic acid with a structural protein shell. The 
detour into defining its life by characteristics of 
its "substance" leads only to paradox and mean- 
ingless questions such as "Is a virus animal or 

Alfred North Whitehead, certainly an under- 
recognized Gaia theorist, would have laughed at 
the question. "Biology is the study of the larger 
organism," he once said, "whereas physics is the 
study of the smaller organisms." We can't think 
in these terms, however, thanks to our linguistic 
heritage. We depend upon black and white, fact 
and myth, good and bad, actor and action. Just as 
we seek ways to eradicate the virus, we try to 
"repair" Gaia/Earth with technical solutions 
premised on mechanical "as if it were alive" 
models of a living organism This is wholly 
predictable, especially since no clear linguistic 
distinction can be made between "environment" 
and "virus." Their roots are identical. I don't 
think we are ready, culturally, to face what this 
really means. "Something" initiates action in the 
"being" we have languaged into "things" we call 
either "virus" or "Earth." This is, for me, a pro- 
foundly private matter — and one I prefer to 
leave unlanguaged. Much contemporary research 
on this matter is heartening, however, and has 
begun to invalidate the classical picture of the 
virus as an "alien" bent on its own replication 
and destruction of its host cell. (Would that the 
same could be said for the human species!) 

Sir Fred Hoyle has described "virus" as a pri- 
mary mechanism in evolution. If the "human" 
life process ends, he argues, the viral process 
ends also. They are not truly distinguishable. 
Therefore, if the viral action "succeeds," it does 


so by not killing its host. When genetic modifica- 
tion occurs as a result of viral encounter, evolu- 
tion has taken place. (I like this theory very 

Nevertheless, a paradox exists. The natural 
response of host cells to "foreign particles" 
(including the substances we refer to as viruses) 
is to ingest and dispose of them. This dual nature 
of physiological response is, of course, reflected 
in our language. The word "host" is derived 
from both "victim" (hostia) and "war-like expedi- 
tion" (hostem) — as well as from "guest" and 
"host" (both hospes). The fate of "the host cell" 
and "the virus" (beware the vrtti!) is interdepen- 
dency. Creative opposition. Yin and yang. 

What I have discovered is that there are a very, 
very few "root" words and meanings. Like vi, 
they are almost all dichotomous, and they both 
transcend and link the various human tongues. I 
have begun to imagine a wonderfully simple, 
profoundly expressive ancient language that 
might have consisted of less than one hundred 
words. I call it GaiaSpeak, It would have avoided 
the traps of nouns and verbs, tenses, subject and 
objects. It would have epitomized the mystery of 
life in overtly recognized paradoxes of speech. 
My most recent insight into GaiaSpeak came 
from a bumper sticker I found myself staring at 
as I waited for a train to pass. It was beautifully 
printed in Celtic-type letters that spelled out An 
Gaelica. I felt the old pounding heart that gener- 
ally accompanies a prolonged spell of dictionary- 
mania as it dawned on me that I might be look- 
ing at another linguistic manifestation of Gaia, 
this time via "my own" people — the Irish. I 
wondered if it could possibly be that the Gaelic 
an gael had preserved a connection between 
geometric angles and angels? Gaia might, then, 
be the living being now languaged as these 
"things." There is solid evidence that this is at 
least part of the picture. 

Irish Gaelic, from what little I remember from my 
Grandmother, is a fairy language — intimately 
poetic, tender, and alive. It seems to have heeded 
the warning against overuse of the vrtti in inter- 
esting ways. In Early Irish, I've found that an 
gael would translate as "the essence of love." 
Hence, "angelic" (I believe). 

The leap to "angle" is more circuitous. Substan- 
tial connections between ancient Gaelic and 
Egyptian cultures have now been well-docu- 
mented within academia. Even the measuring 
systems of the two cultures were virtually identi- 
cal. It seems, therefore, impossible to ignore the 
fact that the most sacred triangle in ancient 
Egyptian mathematics is known as MR or "love" 
(Fig. 3). Hence, I believe, "angle." (This same 

triangle is also the geometric "heart" of the 
icosahedron that describes both the earth model 
we have developed as well as the protein shell of 
the virus.) 

I regularly check speculations such as these with 
others who love word histories. Most of us have 
reached the conclusion that what has happened, 
in theory, to language — and what actually 
happened — are bound to be very different 
stories. For instance, my Proto-Indo-European 
dictionary states the "angle" reaches us via the 
root ank — which means "to bend" or "to turn." 
Following the lead taken by Martin Bernal in his 
astonishing text Black Athena, I also invoke the 
Egyptian root for "life" (ankh). Life. Bending and 
turning. I wonder endlessly if, as the Koran and 
other ancient Chinese and Hindu texts seem to 
indicate, there was early knowledge of the DNA 
spiral in human history. 

The same dictionary is adamant that "Gaia" is a 
Greek noun of unknown origin. I don't think so. 
The Early Irish had a dichotomous language, and 
it is more than curious that their word gainntir 
has survived. It means "jail." If I trace from the 
other direction, i.e. back in time from our word 
"jail," I find that it's derived from the Indo- 
European root keu. The bountiful keu also yields 
"to bend or turn," "a round, hollow object," "a 
vessel," "to lie down on," "to burn," "brightly 
shining," "swollen, strong and powerful." I think 
this is Gaia. 

If we, as a species, are going to survive in sanity, 
we may have to also realize that Gaia is both 
goddess and "jail" — and us. We language our- 
selves into a being hell or heaven. ("Hell," pre- 
dictably, the wonderful warm dark underworld, 
also gets to us linguistically via the goddess 
through the Proto- Indo-European root kel.) 
Reconstructuring the essentials of the even more 
remote "proto-language" I call GaiaSpeak may 
well be my life's work. I know that the task is as 
compelling as it is inextricably bound to my 
search for a spiritual, yet inherently practical 
internal Gaia consciousness. 

I'll Stop here. As a writer, I can no longer ignore 
the number of trees I am potentially sentencing. 

Bcthe Hagens, Ph.D., Professor of Anthropology and 
Geography, Governors State University, Core Faculty, Union 
Institute Graduate School. 


Margaret S. B. White 



Jacques Cousteau, what do you think of the ocean now? 

Your salty world, the Calypso fluidly dancing over it 

toward the coordinates you meticulously plotted; 

those charts you kept rolled inside long cardboard cylinders, 

the kind gift paper comes on, 

and each opening of the cylinder, 

each unfurling of the chart was for you 

like unwrapping a Christmas present 

The joy as you squinted toward those places 

you would find buried treasure — Atlantis or 

a sunken Roman galleon; 

the excitement as you pondered sharks 

and built underwater cages to protect your divers 

as they photographed them, 

and photographers to photograph the photographers, 

images of triple rows of razor teeth 

flashing through the murk, gnawing bars; 

the bars breaking, the divers shrinking back 

to the far corners desperately jerking 

the haul-up lines 

And on deck the lean-bodied, barechested brown men, 

their hands clenched fists holding rope, 

their salt sweat and the sea salt mixed 

to leave a white crust on the skin; the photographic eye 

records as the biceps strain, 

the forearms flex and bend, 

the lats grow huge with blood and the weight of the cage; 

they pull it up through brown, 

through blue-green, through blue 

against the enormous resistance 

of water and still the shark batters the cage, 

the dull snout comes closer to the diver 

with every thrust of that dumb, massive head 

Until the diver holds his camera like a shield 

between himself and those joyful slicing teeth, 

holds the camera with one hand while the other 

tries to keep his oxygen line open, 

tries to keep the shark from tangling the haul-up; 

then after what seems like watching a death 

in slow motion, the cage breaks the surface of the water 

like an undiscovered geyser, 

lines go slack, the men on deck fall back, 

the cage dangles in space, free of water at last 

but not yet of the shark; it makes one final try, 

leaps into the clear, bright foreign air 

then itself falls back, a part of the ocean again. 



Poetry by Margaret S. B. White 


On deck the cage is surrounded 

by members of your crew: 

some help the diver out; he staggers into their arms 

collapsing from the weight of the tanks, 

the weight of his fear 

and the cameras roll, record it all: you consoling, 

Cousteau, the crew removing the tanks 

and the absurd rubber suit. 

Jean-Michel, your oldest son, examines the cage 

for broken welds; 

Philippe, the younger, stands aside 

looks at the sea for some clue, 

then turns to the camera, to us, to explain. 

In the background, celebration and the opening 

of beer 

and we, who see this film on National Geographic, 

knew it would have to end this way. 


Now, Cousteau, your son is under ice 

the super-insulation of the suit 

protects him from the cold. 

He floats: his body moves 

with sluggish undulation 

through breaks in icebergs; the mute 

gazes of crystalline fish follow him 

through the hollows of caves holding frozen 


He swims through them; 

each move, each turn, a place 

he's never been, 

nobody's ever seen; he is first. 

The divers with cameras are next; 

their underwater floodlights illuminate 

the ice, cast tentative shadows 

of each other against the iceberg's 

submerged surface; 

they record his discoveries, Cousteau. 

they see as he sees — they see him see — 

the polar bear, the humpback whale: 

they capture his delight in the radiant ice, 

the pale irridescence of it. 

And when you watch your son, Cousteau, 

when you see him in your element 

through the projector's filament 

do you wonder at his ease, his 

shy grace; when he turns, do you strain your eyes 

to see his face? 


Now, he changes elements, Cousteau; he pilots 

a seaplane toward Portugal. 

No cameramen follow him this time, 

although he is not alone: 

seven others share the cabin of the plane. 

It seems, suspended in space, caught 

between ocean and sky, like a 

bad compromise, this machine; suited neither 

to water nor air. 

Its pontoons hang like oxygen tanks, like 


they drag the plane toward land — and 

the plane flies heavy above it 

and almost gives up to gravity. 

Your son takes it seriously, Cousteau: 

like you, he eyes his maps; 

he flies through clouds unrecorded 

as icebergs, through lensless atoms 

of sky; there is no film trace of 

the journey he makes through this place: 

it is not for posterity. 

He flies toward the Tagus River, 

the brown land below turning green; 

in the distance, the Mediterranean 

and the city of Alverca. 

He makes his approach unbothered 

as the surface of the river; he 

has done this before: this voyage 

no harder than all the others; air or water 

to him did not matter, Cousteau, 

although it did to you. 


Poetry by Margaret S. B. White 

For Barbara 

We walk the forest floor 
and fragrant sawdust, resin 
oozing thickly from within, 
sticks to the faded suede 
of our boots like a new 
kind of skin. 

Above, skylarks fly in 
puzzled arcs and seek the 
branches where they once 
made their nests and came 
to rest before the sunset 
turned to dark. 

In this new meadowland we see 
the jagged stumps of chain- 
sawed oaks and watch as motes 
of dust float upward 
to an air once green with 
hickory leaves, and hear a 
brittle caw of mourning from 
one lost crow. 

We feel the forest cry and 
then we turn and wade across 
the almost silent creek to go. 



Catharine Blair 

This is your conservation chair speaking. I have 
been doing some on the spot investigation of 
environmental problems, beginning with two 
weeks in Tuscon, Arizona where I found the 
residents squandering water like it was going out 
of style - grassy lawns kept green with under- 
ground watering systems and kidney-shaped 
pools on the back patios. There are no restrictions 
whatsoever on watering. It only rains every two 
months there! 

On the Edisto River in South Carolina a dozen of 
us canoed six days from Orangeburg to Collision 
State Park, finding a timber company cutting 
right up to the banks of the river. This river has 
no public land other than the State Parks and 
some poorly maintained county facilities which 
had trash all over and no privies at all. The trip 
was led by the Sierra Club's Wetlands Task Force 
and the State's Water Resource Department. A 
coalition of groups are working to have the 
Edisto declared a state Wild and Scenic River and 
to urge the state to purchase more riverfront 
campsites. This is a classic blackwater stream 
lined with tupelo, bald cypress, and black gum 
trees which are full of warblers, barred owls, 
pileated wood peckers, and Carolina wrens. 

June; a paradise of breeding birds, grassland, and 
woodland flowers. Lewis and Clark explored it 
and Charley Russell painted their story. I didn't 
find a thing wrong with the Great Falls environs. 
It was absolutely beautiful! 

Next was the Sierra Club's four-day International 
Conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Highlights 
were David Brower, Time magazine's Charles 
Alexander, Dave Foreman, and former U.S. 
Representative John Sieberling. Members from as 
far as Malaysia and the Inuits of Alaska joined 
national Club officials from San Francisco. 

In August I did six days of lake paddling in the 
clear waters of the Lady Evelyn/Temagmami 
region of Ontario. The loons called to us at night 
and by day the chipmunks were very demanding 
of our munchies of nuts and seeds. The scenery 
was magnificent, the portages boulder-strewn. 
This trip was led by Ralph Freese. Half of the fun 
was visiting the voyageur sites along the way, 
especially St. Marie among the Hurons and the 
Wye Marsh Wildlife Center in Midland. We just 
happened to be there when the 300th anniversary 
of the Jesuit appearance in Canada was being 
celebrated with the landing of several voyageur 
canoes amid redcoat gun salutes and bagpipes. 
They had started their paddle in Quebec City in 

I recommend this whole territory as an alterna- 
tive to the Boundary Waters. It has the same 
Canadian Shield, same moose and loons, same 
good swimming waters, and excellent parks and 
campgrounds, all with a historical touch, I might 

Catharine Blair is an environmentalist and canoeist who 
monitors the U.S. Park systems for the Sierra club. 

/ •• 

In Montana on the Missouri River I found hun- 
dreds of birds in two wildlife refuges and nature 
conservancy sites. This is magnificent territory in 





Sarah Probst 

The clover grew tall by the roadside. This 
was all I thought about as we drove. In- 
formation signs snapped past the car. 
They told me nothing. He had decided to 
drive. His chlorine-blond hair was tied 
back out of his way now and his olive 
eyes were protected from the sun with 
dark glasses. He spoke to me about the 
greenhouse effect for almost an hour 
before sleep took over. I dreamt about 
killer radioactive vegetables and woke up 
feeling calm. He talked to me for a while 
about the miracle of trees and life and 
peace. He offered me a mint. I wasn't 



Two Book Reviews of The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology and the Scientific 


By Carolyn Merchant 
Harper and Row, 1990 

Reviewed by Lynn Lindvig 

For those of us with an innate distrust of the 
institution of science, this book will confirm our 
darkest suspicions. Even for those with a healthy 
dose of respect for science technology and prog- 
ress, this book will leave us with doubts about 
the foundation our technological society rests 
upon. It is a meticulously researched account of 
the paradigm shift that occurred during the 
period we now call the scientific revolution in 
Western thought during the sixteenth and seven- 
teenth centuries. This massive ideological shift 
from an earth-centered organic view of the world 
to one in which the earth becomes dead matter 
spinning around the sun in a mechanistic uni- 
verse did not occur overnight, nor did it occur 
without a struggle. The struggle, and those 
involved in it, are beautifully brought to life by 
Carolyn Merchant, a professor of environmental 
history, philosophy and ethics at Berkeley, in a 
book that will take a preeminent place in the 

Before and during the Renaissance, life perme- 
ated virtually every object from stones to hu- 
mans. This animistic view was ancient wisdom 
unchallenged by science since there was no body 
of scientific knowledge which could be used to 
differentiate animate from inanimate forms. The 
philosophies of Plato and Aristotle were redis- 
covered and widely followed at this time. Plato 
saw the earth as having a female soul and as the 
source of all motion in the universe. He refers to 
the earth as a "nurse" and this image is repeated 
by later animists. Aristotle also saw the earth as 
being female, although in matter only. The 
spiritual and intellectual aspects of life were 
assigned to the male principle. (This is where we 
have the beginnings of the acceptance of nature 
and the female sex as passive in Western 

Having a mother earth placed restraints on the 
amount of digging, grazing, chopping and pollut- 
ing a society could impose. This was the case 
with "primitive" cultures like the American 
Indians and held powerful sway until the ideo- 
logical shift of the seventeenth century. A pri- 
mary example of this attitude is given by Mer- 
chant in her accounts of the opposition to min- 


ing. Throughout history, mining had been seen 
as a particular abomination against the nurturing 
earth. Even to the Roman writers Pliny, Ovid and 
Seneca, mining was seen as a violation of the 
mother's womb and a display of man's greed. 
Pliny believed that whatever was hidden beneath 
the earth was concealed by the mother in her 
infinite wisdom: 

"For it is upon her surface, in fact, that she has 
presented us with these substances, equally 
with the cereals, bounteous and ever-ready, as 
she is, in supplying us with all things for our 
benefit! It is what is concealed from our view, 
what is sunk beneath her surface, objects, in 
fact, of no rapid formation, that urge us to our 
ruin, that send us to the very depths of 
hell.... when will be the end of thus exhausting 
the earth, and to what point will avarice finally 
penetrate!" (p. 30) 

By the Renaissance, much forest had been de- 
stroyed to make way for mines and to smelt iron 
ore. Water pollution was also noted as a by- 
product of mining. In the early 1400s Florence 
passed laws to prohibit the dumping of lime into 
the rivers because it was poisoning the fish. 
Mining even came to be associated with human 
lust, and digging into the earth was compared to 
probing the secret places of a woman. 

Merchant uses vivid examples from various 
historical vantage points to demonstrate the 
opposition to man's quest for precious metals. 
The passages she has found and brought together 
illuminate poignantly the struggle between 
preserving nature and the onslaught of the 
market economy in which nature becomes a 
commodity. Although she gives examples such as 
Pliny from Roman times, and does point out that 
this struggle has been going on since prehistory, 
the seventeenth century is the crucial turning 
point which she discusses at length in the book 
and where we find the basis of our technological 

By the seventeenth century, the pressure of a 
rapidly expanding commercial market going up 
against the organic world view was creating 
tension at all levels of society, and was part of 
the greater sense of chaos as the reformation 
spread and religious sects appeared, such as the 
Quakers, Huguenots, Anabaptists, and Lollards. 
A common practice among them was a wider 
role for women in religion. This threatened the 
status quo; an old, ordered world was dying in 

more ways than one. Land use shifted from 
agrarian subsistence "commons" to profit-ori- 
ented ventures owned by a single individual or 
family. Peasants who had enjoyed use of commu- 
nal land became displaced wage workers. Says 
Merchant, "the fundamental social and intellec- 
tual problem of the seventeenth century was one 
of order." The basic tenet of Merchant's book is 
that the theories of the scientific revolution are 
based upon an insatiable need to impose order 
upon an unruly, threatening time of change. 

Power was naturally a main concern as well. 
Since the Catholic church was no longer the 
ultimate authority, power became secularized. In 
order to bring back political and social stability, it 
was wielded over the elements which caused 
disorder; society being so hierarchical, power 
came from the top down in a patriarchal model 
where women and nature were seen as lower 
forms at the bottom of the ladder. The Judeo- 
Christian ethic of male dominance, along with 
the concept of dominion over nature also found 
in the Bible, spread to the secular world and 
condoned the exploitation of nature for the 
benefit of man in the rising market economy. The 
radical sects with egalitarian views toward the 
sexes or a Utopian ideology toward nature were 
derided or persecuted; it is during this time that 
the witch trials occurred. Since women were 
associated with lower intellectual forms and the 
female allied with mother nature, they were to 
blame for the dark, passionate and chaotic side of 
the world. Any woman viewed as powerful was 
a renewed threat to the existing patriarchy. 

Our scientifically constructed view of the world 
around us, except for recent developments in 
quantum physics, originates with the "fathers" of 
science: Thomas Hobbes, Rene Descartes, Sir 
Francis Bacon, and slightly later, Sir Isaac New- 
ton and Gottfried Wilhelm Von Leibniz. Yet they 
were a part of this social milieu. Merchant takes a 
fresh look at them, with a critical eye cast toward 
Bacon especially, who was upwardly mobile in 
the King's service during the reign of James I of 
England, the notorious witch hunter, and who 
apparently appropriated his model of scientific 
inquiry from the witch trials: 

"For you have but to follow and as it were 
hound nature in her wanderings and you will 
be able when you like to lead and drive her af- 
terward to the same place again. Neither am I 
of opinion in this history of marvels that super- 
stitious narratives of sorceries, witchcrafts, 
charms, dreams, divinations, and the like, 
where there is an assurance and clear evidence 
of the fact, should be altogether excluded... 

howsoever, the use and practice of such arts is 
to be condemned, yet from the speculation and 
consideration of them... a useful light may be 
gained, not only for a true judgment of the 
offenses of persons charged with such practices, 
but likewise for the further disclosing of the 
secrets of nature. Neither ought a man to make 
scruple of entering and penetrating into these 
holes and corners, when the inquisition of truth 
is his whole object — as your majesty has 
shown in your own example." (p. 168) 

Bacon is generally credited with the separation of 
science from theology. Until his influence, physi- 
cal sciences were taught by theologians at the 
English and European universities and God was 
"immanent" in nature. Bacon took God away 
from science, not by denying his existence which 
would have been heresy, but by stating that God 
existed outside of matter, which was passive and 
acted upon by external force. Matter, thus nature, 
could be acted upon in any fashion. Bacon spe- 
cifically calls for open "dissection" and examina- 
tion of nature whose secrets will benefit man- 

For Descartes, matter was inert, "dead" and 
"stupid" and could be broken down into par- 
ticles which acted independently of each other, 
moved by external force since they had no life in 
and of themselves. The dominant metaphor of 
these workings was the machine. The human 
body was made to fit that metaphor of independ- 
ent particles functioning regularly and following 
mathematical laws. Descartes even viewed 
animals as "beast machines," insensate. Mathe- 
matics became the key to the universe and every- 
thing could be reduced to mathematics and 
understood rationally, without the unpredictabil- 
ity of animism which imparted life to even the 
smallest bodies of matter. Thomas Hobbes ex- 
tended the machine metaphor to the body politic 
in his Leviathan, in which human law and order 
made sense out of the state of chaos that was 
inherently found in nature. 

Merchant explains the pervasiveness of the 
machine metaphor, indeed even in our own time, 
as being due to the fact that machines, like 
windmills, fulling mills, pulleys, and clocks, were 
becoming a large part of the daily life of Europe- 
ans; working the land, hence contact with and 
dependence on nature, was less a part. 

As the mechanistic view took hold there was 
opposition to the spirit of life being removed 
from living things. In the generation following 
Descartes et al., one arm of resistance came from 
the Platonists at Cambridge University. Their 
philosophy represents a compromise between 


organicism and mechanism, according to Mer- 
chant, and with them lie the roots of modern 

Henry More and Ralph Cudworth held a "mana- 
gerial" view of nature. Conservation of natural 
resources was necessary for the sake of human 
progress, i.e. timber was needed for ships, so 
depleting the forest made no sense. They be- 
lieved the earth to be alive but of a "vegetative" 
nature which put them at odds with Descartes 
but did not put them in the same camp with the 
animists. Nature was alive, but did not have a 
will, therefore man still had dominion over 
nature but the responsibility of stewardship to a 
living earth. This ideology surfaces in twentieth 
century ecology. 

Not to be overlooked are the Quaker vitalists 
Anne Conway and Francis Mercury Van 
Helmont, who vehemently rejected Descartes' 
separation of matter and spirit and indeed agreed 
with the animists of centuries past that all matter 
was infused with life. Conway wrote, "How can 
it be, that any dead thing should proceed from 
him, or be created by him, such as is mere body 
or matter.. .It is truly said of one that God made 
not death, and it is true that he made no dead 
thing: For how can a dead thing depend on him 
who is life and charity?" Although it would 
appear that the mechanists won the struggle, 
views like this were not utterly stamped out and 
Conway herself corresponded with and influ- 
enced the theories of the philosopher/mathemati- 
cian Gottfried Wilhelm Von Leibniz, who also 
opposed the inertness of matter. 

The Death of Nature was originally published in 
1980. This edition contains a preface written in 
1989 in which the author recounts the explosion 
of the grass roots environmental movement of 
the 1980s, a renewed interest in the cult of the 
goddess and pagan, earth-oriented rituals, and 
the spreading of the GAIA theory proposed by 
atmospheric chemist James Lovelock in the late 
1970s. All of this would indicate a growing 
movement whose diverse parts show signs of 
becoming galvanized against further abuse of the 

The scientific revolution broke down the earth, 
the human body, and the body politic into 
mechanized parts functioning without unity or a 
sense of interdependence. It is quite probable that 
we are seeing this process in reverse. Holism has 
crept into mainstream medicine, the social sci- 
ences, and most importantly, environmental 
science with the GAIA theory. 

I urge anyone with an interest in the future of the 
planet to read this book, in order to better under- 


stand the basis of our current ecological crisis 
and to grasp just how far back into history its 
roots go. What we do with this knowledge of the 
imperfections of our modern science and "prog- 
ress" remains to be seen. It will be a future 
chapter in Carolyn Merchant's story, one in 
which, as she says, "the world must again be 
turned upside down." 

Lynn Ann Lindvig, a graduate of the College of 
Communications at University of Illinois Champaign- 
Urbana, currently works for a medical journal. She is a 
member of Chicago Women in Publishing and is an editorial 
consultant for The Creative Woman. 

J A Journal 

Hypatia / r:i; 

OYPATIA, a journal founded hy members of the 
Society for Women in Philosophy as a forum for 
dialogue within the women's movement, is 
dedicated to the publication of scholarly research 

in feminist philosophy 
and the only journal in 
the country for 
scholarly research at 
the intersection of 
philosophy and 
women's studies. 

1 Hypatia 


' ,1 . 

Triannual. Subscriptions: $25 individuals (one year), $48. 0C 
individuals (two years), $40 institutions. Outside US, add SIC 
per year for foreign surface postage. Send orders to Indiana 
University Press, Journals Division, 10th & Morton Streets 
Bloomington, IN 47405. Or call 812-855-9449. 

Second Book Review on The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology and the Scientific Revolution 

Reviewed By Margaret S. Matchett 

Metaphors are shaped by experience; they also 
form the basis and justification for action. A 
metaphor can provide the framework not only 
for the interpretation of observation but also for a 
system of ethics. In The Death of Nature, Carolyn 
Merchant juxtaposes two metaphors for nature, 
both with ancient historical roots. On the one 
hand, nature has been viewed as a living organ- 
ism. This organic view can imply a deep respect 
for nature and can entail constraints on activi- 
ties — mining, deforestation, and the like — 
which are seen as abuses of the earth. In contrast, 
nature can be seen as an aggregate of lifeless 
particle s — atoms, electrons, quarks — subject to 
mechanistic and discoverable laws. 

The Death of Nature focuses on the period from 
1500 to 1700, during which the dominant meta- 
phor shifted from organic to mechanical. Inter- 
connected intellectual, scientific, technological, 
economic, and political currents brought about 
this shift. To the formidable task of describing 
these currents, Merchant brings a wealth of 
scholarship. The book presents fascinating mate- 
rial, rewarding particularly for its insights into 
the historical roots of the present ecological crisis. 
As the book's subtitle — Women, Ecology, and the 
Scientific Revolution — suggests, the author is also 
concerned with the implications of world view 
for the status of women. Here, too, she presents 
interesting historical data, but this reader found 
the attempt at synthesis not entirely persuasive, 
for a reason that arises from a more general flaw 
in the analysis. 

Merchant asserts 1 : Central to the organic theory 
was the identification of nature, especially the 
earth, with a nurturing mother: a kindly, be- 
neficent female who provided for the needs of 
mankind in an ordered universe. But another 
opposing image of nature as female was also 
prevalent: wild and uncontrollable nature that 
could render violence, storm, droughts, and 
general chaos. Both were identified with the 
female sex and were projections of human 
perceptions onto the external world. The sec- 
ond image, nature as disorder, called forth an 
important modern idea, that of power over 
nature. Two new ideas, those of mechanism 
and of the domination and mastery of nature, 
became core concepts of the modern world. 

Here, as elsewhere, the author equates mecha- 
nism with domination — domination of the 
natural world and, by extension, of people — 
women in particular. 

It is true that the Scientific Revolution and the 
technology associated with it gave rise to a far 
greater dominion of the material world than had 
been known before. However, efforts at control 
of nature are much older than the Scientific 
Revolution. We may seek to control natural 
forces by levers and pulleys, semiconductors and 
atomic piles, but the use of magic and incanta- 
tion, reaching far into the past, likewise repre- 
sents an attempt to control. Similarly, hierarchical 
social systems far antedate Merchant's period. 
Dichotomies, however seductive as tools of 
thought, must be used with care. The organic and 
mechanical metaphors are both broadly inclusive 
and both are susceptible to changes of emphasis 
and to restatement. Indeed, Merchant recognizes 
this when she deals with history, showing the 
interplay of philosophies and the linkages be- 
tween the two metaphors: "Some philosophers 
have argued that the two frameworks are funda- 
mentally incommensurable. Although such a per- 
ception of the dichotomy is too extreme..." 2 
One cannot quarrel with a historian's decision to 
study a single time period, nor can one deny, in 
the face of much that is enlightening in this very 
book, that history's lessons are of value today. It 
is possible, however, to extrapolate too far. The 
mechanism Merchant describes was shaped by 
advances in physics, the dominant science of her 
period. Later advances in other fields — evolu- 
tion and cell biology, as well as the social sci- 
ences — have supplied abundant material rele- 
vant to a contemporary world view. (In The Lives 
of a Cell, Lewis Thomas reports finding at least 
momentary satisfaction in seeing the world as 
most resembling a single cell.) To regard an 
organic view of nature as the only source of 
correction for modern ills — the destruction of 
the environment, the exploitation of women and 
minorities — is to pursue the dichotomy beyond 
its intrinsic reach. 

In analyzing two contrasting systems of thought, 
Merchant challenges her readers to reexamine the 
assumptions of modern society. She reminds us 
that there are alternative ways of looking at the 
world. By a holistic approach to her material, she 
makes vivid the value of such an approach. To 
say that there are more alternatives to be consid- 
ered and more lessons to be learned is in no way 
to minimize her contribution. 

1 The Death of Nature, p. 2. 

2 Ibid, p. 289. 

Dr. Matchett taught mathematics for many years at the 
Laboratory Schools of the University of Chicago. 



Dear Helen, 

The Soviet Women issue of the Creative Woman 
came yesterday and I have read it from cover to 
cover. It is beautifully done and very moving. 
Sharon Tennison's very Jungian introversion at 
35 and subsequent confrontation of the human 
dilemma was marvelous preparation for her 
efforts to bring together the women of Russia 
and America. It is impossible to generalize 
meaningfully — each woman interviewed pre- 
sented an individual outlook, but the overall 
impression is of self-knowledge and maturity. 
The reprinted article on Anna Akhmatova was 
especially interesting to me because I have so 
long thought of her as the leading Russian poet 
of the century without really knowing much 
about her. What a wonderful writer she was! 

Love, Allegra 

(Dr. Allegra Stewart is a scholar of language and literature. 
She lives in Indianapolis.) 

Dear Ms. Hughes: 

What a delight to receive your letter of January 9 
and the enclosed copy of your fall 1989 edition: 
"Toward Planethood!" 

Many thanks for your thoughtfulness in sending 
your very interesting and artistic magazine. I 
hope you will get a million new subscribers - 
attracted not merely by the excellence of your 
presentations but by the free copy of our little 
book. If we can harness the energy of American 
women - nothing can block the creation of a 
more humane and peaceful world. 

With appreciation and every good wish, 

Benjamin B. Ferencz 
School of Law 
Pace University 
New York 

FREE copies of Planethood are still avail- 
able with each new subscription or gift 


Dear Editor, 

I'm writing about the idea I spoke of at the 
IWWG environmental seminar at the Women's 
Museum in Washington, D.C. The "Tupperware 
Parties" for recycled paper products and biode- 
gradable products has taken a new turn in the 
Social Action group of my church. We decided to 
hold an Earth Day Party on Earth Day, April 22, 
or the Sunday before or after, after church, 
during the coffee hour. We plan to display 
samples from two companies whose catalogues I 
have, and have people who are interested sign 
up for orders. Here are the addresses of the two 

Earth Care Paper, Inc. Madison, WI 53704 (608) 256- 

Seventh Generation Products for a Health Planet 10 
Farrell Street South Burlington, VT 05403 (800) 456- 
1177 (24 hours) 

I have sent for about $250-worth of products 
which we will use as samples. Enough Christmas 
and birthday presents for a year, plus many 
items I will use myself! Kitchen and bathroom 
items, children's books and games, notes and 
cards, office paper, stationery, etc. The catalogues 
give much useful information, and Earth Care 
prints educational pamphlets. Both companies 
will send you extra catalogues. Perhaps they will 
supply you with samples if you tell them your 
plans and purposes. Both companies give a 
percentage of their profits to environmental 
organizations. Earth Care is 10%, I believe. 
I haven't given up my idea of personal at-home 
parties for other friends whom I work with on 
various community committees. 

I think we should get our church to use recycled 
paper in the office. Maybe our Social Action 
group will present them with a gift of some 
reams of paper of different qualities, to get them 
started. (We Unitarians are wordy.) 

I think this idea has all kinds of possibilities. It's 
educational and consciousness-raising, as well as 
encouraging to companies to expand production 
of less expensive environmentally safe products. 
Go with it, if you can! All your ideas and enthu- 
siasm and intelligent concern were such an 

Jean Junge 



Dear Helen: 

Just finished reading your issue on the Soviet 
Woman and couldn't help but write to you. 

I was very moved by the different accounts of the 
womens' lives, the periods of history they 
described and the depth of feeling each 
displayed. But, every now and again, I had to 
look at the cover to see if the title of the issue 
was not the Russian Woman. Even Sharon 
Tennison in her introduction seemed to be 
talking primarily about Russian women. 

What you published was excellent, but either the 
title was somewhat misleading or the issue was 
not diverse enough. When you consider that only 
51% of the population in the Soviet Union is 
Russian, the representation of the other 49% was 
far from complete. 

We seem to forget under what conditions the 
other fourteen republics came to be part of the 
Soviet Union and how most of them have 
popular front movements which are leading 
them toward total independence from this same 
Soviet Union. 

My family left Latvia when I was five years old. 
As a child I remember sitting spellbound while 
listening to grownups talk late into the night 
about events in the war (both WWI & WWII); 
and when I look back over my own early 
childhood I suppose one could say I had a few 
interesting experiences also. Through it all I have 
developed a very strong sense of national origin. 

Last summer I made my second trip back to 
Latvia since my family fled from there in 1944. I 
came away with many impressions. The first and 
foremost was how passionately Latvians want to 
be independent from the Soviet Union. 

In her poem "Courage" Anna Akhmatova writes: 
"We will preserve you, Russian Speech, from 
servitude in foreign chains". And yet, Russians 
seem to want to keep other languages and 
speeches in servitude to them. The Latvian 
province of Latgale is so saturated with Russian 
people that many times the Latvian people are 
ridiculed on the streets for speaking their own 

While on my trip, I took a picture of a woven 
tapestry depicting Latvian women in their 
regional folk costumes. It appears as though they 
are singing a song which tells of unifying the 
whole country on both sides of the river 
Daugava. One woman stands apart from the 
rest, she is naked and there is a picket fence 

separating her from the others. She is from the 
township of Abrene which has been so 
Russianized that the region, in this case 
represented by the naked woman, has been 
stripped of its identity. 

In another poem, " I Am Not One of Those Who 
Left the Land...", Anna Akhmatova writes: 
"Survely the reckoning will be made after the 
passing of this cloud." It seems to me that 
fourteen republics are now waiting for this 
reckoning and ironically, for most of them, the 
clouds have been the Russian people - and they 
will pass. 

Women all over the world have enough in 
common that they can understand one another 
and even become good friends. I have no doubt 
that I could be very good friends with any one of 
the women you interviewed. They have a depth 
of understanding that transcends national 
boundaries. Larissa Vasilyeva probably speaks 
for most of them when she says "Only we didn't 
know - we were in ignorance of the ways of our 
leaders, what secrets they kept, what horrible 
things they did." 

I find that many commentators also don't know. 
They especially don't know the many negative 
ways that Russian people outside of Russia 
proper assert themselves; the many privileges 
they allow themselves at the expense of the local 

It seems to me that nations could learn a lot from 
the simple psychology our mothers taught us: "If 
you want other children to play with you, you 
must be nice to them, otherwise they will go 
away." Well, to noone's surprise, the Baltic 
countries have already declared their intention to 
"go away." Certainly, on an individual level, 
there is still time to take the advice of our 
mothers and become friends. The enormity of 
what can be gained in that approach boggles the 

I look forward to your next issue. 


Inta Sraders 
Glenwood, IL 



A Little Gaia-talk among friends 

So we're all sitting around chewing our 
Rainforest Crunch. "Mmh. Delicious." 


"Do we have to rot our teeth to save the 

"Here - take some super dental floss." 

"How does eating this candy really help?" 

"It creates a market for rainforest products.. .in 
this case, Brazil nuts... that are harvested without 
clearing the forest." 

"Why not clear the forest? WE did it to North 

"We need the oxygen produced by the great 
tropical rainforest and the rest of the planet's 
trees busily doing photosynthesis, we need it to 
balance the depletion of the ozone layer, to 
combat the trend to global warming, and 
therefore to maintain the conditions necessary to 
sustain life." 

"Even more, we need it to conserve biotic 
diversity. Immense numbers of species live in the 
forests, identified and not-yet-identified." 

"Many potential uses of these threatened species 
may be lost forever, including medicines." 

"Forest land is quickly exhausted after clearing. 
The forest floor is not suitable for farming, and 
after a couple of years of using it for grazing, it is 
depleted even for that use and reverts to desert." 

"So: we should eat less beef. Demand for beef 
drives this process." "Right. Eat Rainforest 

"I still say it's hypocritical of us to lecture South 
Americans on saving their forests when we 
North Americans have destroyed so much of 

"And we're still doing it! Cutting down the 
ancient forests, all that is left of our magnificent 
heritage. It's a war between intelligence and 

"And we're using more than our share of the 
earth's energy resources. We complain about 
over-population in the Third World when one 
baby born in the U.S. will consume fifteen times 
more energy resources than a baby born in India 
will consume. We have met the enemy and it is 
us, as Pogo says." 

"We have to change a lot of things about our 
habits and way of life if this war on behalf of 
Gaia is to be won." 

"So is our official policy now echofeminism?" 

"Echofeminism? Does that mean you say 
everything twice?" "Starhawk pronounces it 

"EEK! a feminist!" 

"Have you heard The New Confessional?" 

"Let's have it." 

"It goes like this: 

'Bless me Mother for I have sinned. I used five 
plastic bags at the grocery store this week.' 

That's alright, my child. Just say fifteen Hail 
Gaia's and next time carry a canvas bag.'" 

Go in peace. 


This issue of 
The Creative Woman 

was printed on 
recycled paper 




Artwork this page 

"Gaia" by Deborah Koff-Chapin 

Signed color photographic prints 

available from 


A Gallery of Women's Art 

3208 South East Hawthorne 

Portland, OR 97214 


Portfolio of Prints and Book Available: 
At the Pool of Wonder: Dreams and 
Visions of an Awakening Humanity 

Deborah Koff-Chapin 
628 First Street 
Langley, WA 98260 



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